A Jasper County judge assessed a Joplin man seven years in prison Monday for swerving at a police officer with his pickup truck in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store.
Circuit Judge Gayle Crane sentenced John C. Gage, 25, to the prison term at a sentencing hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court.
Gage pleaded guilty Nov. 18 to a Class C felony count of assault on a law enforcement officer in a plea deal with the Jasper County prosecutor’s office. The defendant had been facing a Class A felony count of the offense, which carries from 10 to 30 years or up to life in prison.
The conviction stems from an incident March 12 of last year in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart store at 1501 S. Range Line Road. Gage tried to run down Officer David McGough when McGough, who was on foot, tried to stop him in connection with a dispute in the parking lot.
McGough fired shots at the truck in self-defense, wounding Gage in the shoulder and striking a finger of his passenger, Tyeler K. Whetstone, 23.
McGough and Cpl. Trevor Duncan were working an anti-theft detail in the parking lot when a dispute started between the couple and another man. As the officers approached, the other man ran and Duncan pursued him while McGough tried to stop Gage and Whetstone.
A probable-cause affidavit alleged that two bags of methamphetamine were found in the truck after the shooting and that Whetstone admitted attempting to make a drug sale in the parking lot. Although initially charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, Whetstone currently faces a reduced count of felony possession in connection with the incident. Her case remains pending before Crane.
OFFICER DAVID McGOUGH escaped injury when John Gage tried to run him down with a truck a year ago. Gage and his female companion suffered gunshot wounds, according to court records.