Driver accused of purposely killing Springdale officer pleads not guilty

Death penalty case against man accused of killing officer Kaia Grant

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - An accused cop killer facing the death penalty pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning.

Terry Blankenship, 42, was in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

He was ordered to be held without bond.

“You know, you’re never going to get your loved one back, like Officer Grant, and I just hope that we can give the family some kind of solace,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said.

Blankenship was recently indicted on 10 charges including aggravated murder in the killing of Springdale Police Officer

Officer Grant, 33, died protecting and serving the community she loved during a police chase the evening of March 21.

RELATED: Ohio lawmakers pass bill renaming part of I-275 after Springdale officer killed in line of duty

Kaia Grant
Kaia Grant (Source: Springdale Police Department)

Blankenship was fleeing Elmwood Place police on northbound I-75 when he went onto westbound I-275 and into Springdale police’s jurisdiction. Elmwood police were chasing him because he was wanted by Blanchester police on a felony aggravated burglary warrant.

He had threatened “suicide by cop” and was considered “armed and dangerous,” police have said. Authorities say they found text messages Blankenship sent saying police “were going to have to kill him before they take him into custody and arrest him.”

Officer Grant and Sgt. Andrew Davis responded to the highway to try to end the chase. They parked their marked patrol vehicles on I-275 west of State Route 4, got out and stood ready to deploy their stop sticks as Blankenship’s pick-up truck approached.

With no obstacles in his way, Blankenship made a sudden turn toward the officers and drove directly into the police officers and their marked police vehicles, prosecutors have said.

Neither officer was able to deploy their stop sticks. The impact caused Officer Grant’s body to go airborne and cross the highway barrier and land on the opposite side of the highway, prosecutors have said.

Officer Grant was flown to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. The Hamilton County Coroner ruled her death a homicide as the result of blunt force trauma.

Officer Grant was a Wyoming High School graduate and eight-year veteran with the Springdale Police Department.

This was the agency’s first in-the-line-of-duty death.

Sgt. Andrew Davis also was hurt in the crash. He was treated at a local hospital and released.

After the crash, Blankenship’s truck came to rest on the right side of the highway. The impact turned on Officer Grant’s body-worn camera.

The camera activated at about 8:15 p.m. and a single gunshot is heard coming from Blankenship’s vehicle, prosecutors have said.

Blankenship sustained extensive facial injuries as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, police have said.

A loaded .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun was found in Blankenship’s truck. No shots were fired by any police officers on the scene, according to prosecutors.

Two days prior, Blankenship broke into his estranged wife’s home in Clinton County and pistol-whipped a friend of his wife who was in the residence, police records show.

The homeowner and friend called 911 but when the police arrived, he had fled.

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