By Jeff Lehr
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Two Joplin police officers who shot and wounded a driver accused of trying to run them down with his sport utility vehicle have been cleared to return to duty.
The Newton County prosecutor reviewed the findings of an investigation by the internal affairs division of the Joplin Police Department and decided that Cpl. Thomas Bowin and Officer Luke Stahl acted within the legal parameters of their profession on June 16 when they drew their service weapons and shot at Brandon J. Knoderer.
Shots fired by the officers wounded Knoderer, 32, in his right arm and left hand. The shooting took place about 1:10 a.m. near the intersection of 32nd Street and Finley Avenue where Knoderer had been pulled over for a traffic stop.
Knoderer allegedly drew the officers’ fire when he drove his Ford Expedition at them at high speed. He remains charged with two felony counts of assault on a law enforcement officer.
The officers were placed on administrative leave in accordance with departmental policy while the shooting remained under investigation.
Police Lt. Matt Stewart said that besides being cleared by the internal affairs division and the review of the prosecutor, both officers underwent psychological evaluations to ascertain if they were fit to return to duty.
Knoderer reportedly did not obey several commands issued by Bowin, who initiated the stop. He instead rolled up his windows and refused to roll them back down. He also locked his doors and refused to get out of the vehicle as requested by the officer.
When backup help arrived and officers began trying to break side windows to gain access to the interior of the SUV, Knoderer restarted the vehicle, backed up and accelerated forward, at first toward Bowin and then toward Stahl.
Knoderer fled the area after being shot, but was later located at a family member’s home in the 3700 block of South Ferguson Avenue and arrested.
Return to duty
Officer Luke Stahl returned to work at the Joplin Police Department on June 28. Cpl. Thomas Bowin is expected to resume duty today.