Police: Man arrested after high-speed, cross-county chase in NKY

One person was flown to an area hospital. Several others were driven off the road as the suspect swerved into traffic.
Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 7:55 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A high-speed chase tore through several Northern Kentucky counties Thursday morning, according to Kentucky State Police, causing a crash that sent one victim to the hospital by medical chopper.

A 31-year-old Walton resident named Michael Lepper faces charges in the chase, KSP says.

Scant details are available from the law enforcement jurisdictions involved, and several questions remain unanswered including the route and duration of the pursuit, how it ended and why Lepper is detained on at least one charge that is already expected to be dropped.

It began in Gallatin County after the sheriff’s office attempted a traffic stop, KSP says. The driver of the vehicle didn’t stop. KSP doesn’t say when this happened.

The chase passed into Owen County around 8:30 a.m., according to a statement from the Owenton Police Department and Owen County Sheriff’s Office.

At some point, KSP Post 5 troopers and detectives responded to the pursuit.

Three incidents are confirmed to have happened during the pursuit. It’s unknown whether they happened separately or in conjunction.

All KSP says of the injury crash is it resulted “from an individual being injured when the fleeing vehicle struck a civilian’s vehicle during the pursuit with the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.”

The injured person, according to KSP, was transported to the University of Kentucky Hospital. The time and location of the crash remain unclear.

Another possible incident occurred as the suspect “intentionally swerved into oncoming traffic, causing multiple vehicles to leave the roadway,” according to Owenton police and Owen County sheriff’s deputies. They are asking the drivers of those vehicles to come forward. Contact information is provided below.

Lastly, KSP dispatch confirms a sheriff’s vehicle was struck by the suspect at some point during the pursuit. Gallatin County Sheriff’s Department says Capt. Brent McDonald’s cruiser was hit.

The captain suffered a minor hand injury and is okay, the sheriff’s confirmed.

The suspect, Lepper, was taken to the Carroll County Detention Center, where he remains as of Thursday night.

KSP has charged Lepper with first-degree assault, a felony, and leaving the scene of an accident, a misdemeanor.

But jail records show Lepper was booked on a number of other charges out of Gallatin County, including murder of a police officer.

The other charges are fleeing or evading police, assault on a police officer, criminal mischief, reckless driving, speeding 20 mph over the limit, wanton endangerment and operating on a suspended license.

KSP affirms that no one has died as a result of the chase.

Contacts from two jurisdictions independently told FOX19 the murder charge will eventually be dropped and that it was only added because Kentucky does not have an attempted murder statute.

That’s true; Kentucky does not have an attempted murder statute per se. Rather, Kentucky criminal code provides for attempted crimes in a statute that applies generally to all acts that would otherwise constitute crimes, including murder.

Lepper is set to be arraigned in Gallatin County on April 19.

If you were one of the drivers who left the roadway as a result of the chase, contact the Owenton Police Department at 502-484-2313 or the Owen County Sheriff’s Office at 502-484-3363 to provide a statement.

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