Man pleads guilty to shooting Willowick police officer

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 8:40 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2021 at 5:24 PM EDT
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LAKE COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - The 59-year-old man accused of shooting a Willowick police officer last year plead guilty Wednesday morning in the Lake County Court of Common Pleas.

Sam Stevens Jr. was shot by Officers Ben Bruno and Mark Guerrieri after Stevens shot Bruno in the chest following a police chase, according to Willowick Police Chief Brian Turner. Bruno was saved by his bullet-proof vest.

Stevens pleaded guilty to several charges, including attempted murder and resisting arrest, after initially pleading not guilty. His change of plea was accepted by Judge John P. O’Donnell.

According to Turner, around 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2020 police received a call regarding an erratic driver at Vine Street and Willowick Drive.

The driver’s vehicle was located and followed by both Willowick and Eastlake officers, said Turner.

Stevens allegedly refused to stop and crashed into a vehicle at the intersection of Bayridge Blvd. and Willowick Drive.

On Daniel Drive, Stevens stopped his car and refused to follow the officer’s commands, said Turner.

He then reached down, grabbed a handgun and began firing at Bruno and Guerrieri, who returned fire.

Stevens spent several months recovering and was released from a rehab facility on March 3, 2021 and transferred to the Lake County Jail.

He was indicted April 12 in Lake County court. His sentencing is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Aug. 25.

Stevens faces up to 54 1/2 years behind bars if sentenced to the maximum.

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