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GENESEO – Livingston County officials say dash cam video released today show that a Geneseo police officer was justified in shooting at two suspects who threatened him during a routine traffic stop in July before fleeing into a nearby cornfield.
While officials are still searching for fugitive David Morgan, they argue that Morgan, 49, made a series of poor decisions from violating parole in North Carolina to leaving his vehicle with a gun during the traffic stop – all of which led to Officer Dylan DiPisquale firing a single shot at the suspects and Morgan becoming a wanted man.
“This shows the experience we face in a traffic stop,” said Geneseo Police Chief Eric Osganian as he briefed media Tuesday on the contents of the dash cam video. “The officer was a young guy with a weapon pointed at his face. He was shaken. We all would be.”
Officer DiPisquale, who is back to work and has been cleared of any possible charges, is heard in the video calling in the white SUV’s North Carolina plate, and is then seen exiting his vehicle and walking to the side of the car. As he approached, Sandra Brown, 40, of Southport NC, jumped from the passenger side of the car out of the officer’s view with her hands behind her back. Morgan left the car with a black, sub-compact pistol in his right hand. While the video has no audio, it is clear that DiPasquale attempted to talk to Morgan before noticing the gun and then pulling his own weapon. He then backed away from both Morgan and Brown, seeking cover and calling for help before firing one shot at the suspects who then fled into a corn field. The bullet didn’t hit anyone, but Livingston County Sheriff Tom Dougherty said the video proves DiPisquale followed training protocols and “would have been justified if he had shot” one of the suspects.
“He did a remarkable job,” Dougherty said. “There was no conversation. It was, boom, right on him.”
According to investigators, Brown said she and Morgan decided that Brown would point her cell phone at the officer and Morgan would point his handgun at the officer in attempt to draw fire from the officer before running into the nearby cornfield. Brown stated their plan was to run through a cornfield and then flee together into nearby woods.
Brown was arrested shortly after the incident and has been charged menacing a police officer, conspiracy, obstructing government administration, menacing, criminal possession of stolen property, and unlawful possession of marijuana. She pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and is being held at the Livingston County Jail on $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond.
According to federal officials, the couple may have been on the run because Morgan’s home in Wilmington, North Carolina had been raided by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office where deputies discovered three pounds of marijuana. Morgan was on probation from a 2002 drug conviction for which he was sentenced to almost 17.5 years in prison. Both the marijuana and gun possession are parole violations.
U.S. Attorney James Kennedy announced that Morgan was officially charged Monday with being a felon in possession of a firearm, a charge which carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
While efforts to locate Morgan locally failed, U.S. Marshal Charles Salinas said that Morgan’s face will be plastered on billboards in New York, North Carolina and South Carolina with intense social media efforts in Maine and New Hampshire.
Dougherty said he doubts Morgan is still in Livingston County despite the intense manhunt for the fugitive. Considering the county’s rural, rugged terrain, the time it took to set up a perimeter and the remote possibility that Morgan could have hitched a ride with a trucker on nearby highways, Dougherty said there is no way of knowing exactly where Morgan is. However, Dougherty addressed rumors that Morgan may have shot himself in the woods calling the claim unfounded. An officer did hear a single gunshot, but Dougherty said the county’s rough terrain has made searching difficult. Last week, the county used cadaver dogs but didn’t find anything.
Dougherty asked residents to continue to watch for Morgan by focusing on things like his jagged front teeth and unique tattoos. Also, if anyone sees their vehicle passing in the dash cam video, investigators are interested in what you may have seen.
Morgan is a white male, 5 feet 7 inches tall brown eyes. He was last seen clean shaven but may now have facial hair growth. He was last seen wearing jeans, a gray, long-sleeved shirt and a baseball cap. Anyone with information on Morgan’s whereabouts is encouraged to call 844-LCSO-TIP or 585-243-7100.