Suspect shot by police draws 20-year term

John Blanton

A man who was shot when he pointed a gun at a Joplin police officer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

John M. Blanton, 37, pleaded guilty March 11 in Jasper County Circuit Court to counts of first-degree assault, unlawful possession of a firearm and receiving stolen property in connection with the officer-involved shooting Nov. 2, 2018, at the Springview Gardens apartment complex at 22nd Street and McCoy Avenue.

Judge Dean Dankelson sentenced Blanton to 20 years in prison on the assault conviction with concurrent terms of five years each on the firearm and stolen property counts. The defendant's plea agreement called for the 20-year sentence. The plea deal also dismissed three related counts of armed criminal action, tampering with a motor vehicle and resisting arrest.

Officer Mackenzie Roach shot Blanton three times when the fleeing suspect pointed a handgun at Roach during a foot chase through the courtyard of the apartments complex.

Blanton was struck by the rounds in his wrist, an arm and a leg but suffered no life-threatening wounds. He was transported to Freeman Hospital West, where he was kept under armed guard for about a week while undergoing treatment for his wounds.

Roach was responding to a request for assistance from Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team members when he became involved in the pursuit of Blanton. Members of the team contacted police when they spotted what they believed to be a stolen vehicle at a convenience store. Roach spotted the truck and followed the driver to the apartment complex where he tried to pull him over.

Blanton jumped out and ran with Roach in pursuit on foot. Blanton fell to the ground while running and pulled a .380-caliber pistol out and pointed it at his pursuer. The officer responded by shooting him with his service weapon before Blanton fired a shot.

The entire incident was caught on the body cam Roach was wearing. It was the first officer-involved shooting in Joplin to be captured on video by an officer's body cam.

Separate investigations conducted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the internal affairs division of the Joplin Police Department cleared Roach of any wrongdoing in the incident.

Both the truck and the gun Blanton had in his possession proved to be stolen.

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