Man convicted of breaking cop’s back claims both share fault

Carroll Police Officer Patrick McCarty stepped onto the hood of a moving car in an attempt to stop a fleeing driver in March 2021. (Screenshot of police dash camera video)

Carroll Police Officer Patrick McCarty stepped onto the hood of a moving car in an attempt to stop a fleeing driver in March 2021. (Screenshot of police dash camera video)

by Jared Strong, Iowa Capital Dispatch
May 15, 2023

CARROLL — An Illinois man who sped away from a western Iowa traffic stop in 2021 with an officer on top of his car claims the officer was partly at fault for the incident for pointing a gun at him and stepping onto the hood of the vehicle.

The officer suffered a broken back when he was flung from the car.

Dennis James Guider Jr., 29, of Chicago Heights, pleaded guilty to serious injury by vehicle, a felony, and was recently sentenced to up to five years in prison. A felony eluding charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Guider had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for a forgery case in Illinois when a Carroll police officer saw him in the passenger seat of a car at a restaurant drive-through on March 5, 2021.

Officer Patrick McCarty stopped the vehicle about 1 p.m. and indicated Guider was facing arrest.

“I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it sounds like you’ve got a warrant out of Illinois,” McCarty said, according to video recorded by his body-worn camera.

Warning: The following video contains graphic scenes and profane language. It may not be appropriate for all viewers.

The officer asked Guider to step out of the vehicle. About a minute later, Guider opened the driver door of the car and pushed out a woman who had been operating the vehicle.

At that point, McCarty stepped to the front of the car, pointed his pistol at Guider and repeatedly ordered him to stop. Guider drove the car slowly forward, and McCarty stepped onto the car’s hood and crouched with his weapon still pointed at Guider.

“I feared for my life after the officer pull(ed) out his gun and jump(ed) on the hood of my car,” Guider wrote in a letter to the Carroll County clerk of court in February, adding that he was unarmed at the time of the traffic stop.

Dennis James Guider, Jr. (Photo courtesy of the Illinois Department of Corrections)

Guider claimed “another officer screamed at (McCarty) over and over to put his gun down,” but that is not apparent in the video recording of the incident.

Guider kept driving, initially with his hands held up. McCarty holstered his gun and clung to the car as it gained speed.

A police vehicle that gave chase attempted to stop Guider’s car by pulling in front of it, according to dash camera video from that vehicle. The car sideswiped the police vehicle, and McCarty went onto the car’s roof.

A criminal complaint against Guider said he drove more than 50 mph with McCarty on top and eventually struck a ditch. McCarty was thrown and suffered a broken vertebrae in his lower back, he testified in court last week.

Guider was able to drive the car for about another mile before it ceased to function. The police vehicle that was in pursuit got stuck in the ditch, which lay between two parking lots.

Guider allegedly stole a vehicle from a residential garage and drove to Illinois, where the vehicle was located by law enforcement there.

Differing accounts

McCarty, a young officer who had worked for the Carroll Police Department for about four years before the incident, took nearly a year to fully recover from his injury, he said. He was away from work for a little more than three months.

The police department’s initial recounting of the incident indicated that McCarty had been struck by Guider’s car before he went onto its hood. And McCarty told a local radio station that Guider quickly accelerated, “forcing me onto the vehicle itself.”

That appears to be contradicted by the officer’s body camera footage, which shows the car moving slowly when McCarty stepped onto the hood.






Police Chief Brad Burke did not address the discrepancy when asked to comment for this article.

Burke declined to release video of the incident after it happened because it was evidence in a pending criminal case. The video became part of the public court record last week because it was used as an exhibit during Guider’s sentencing hearing.

The case was pending for nearly two years before Guider wrote to the clerk of court in February. He said he was incarcerated at an Illinois prison and wanted to “take care of my case matter right away.”

Seeking leniency

Guider’s court-appointed attorney in Iowa, Joel Baxter, asked a district court judge who presided over the sentencing hearing last week for some leniency because McCarty’s actions were contrary to his training.

McCarty admitted during questioning by Baxter that he had not been trained to step in front of a vehicle with his weapon drawn to prevent it from fleeing.

“Each situation is different,” McCarty said at the hearing last week. “It certainly didn’t play out the way I intended.”

Burke, the police chief, told the Iowa Capital Dispatch that McCarty “in the heat of the moment made a lapse in judgment in an attempt to apprehend the suspect. This is a training point that is used for all the officers going forward from the incident.”

Baxter asked for Guider’s prison sentence in Iowa to run concurrently with his incarceration in Illinois, effectively allowing him to serve both prison terms at the same time.

He said McCarty’s actions “compounded the situation.”

“We don’t know would have happened if Officer McCarty hadn’t stepped in front of the vehicle, hadn’t drawn his service weapon, hadn’t stepped onto the vehicle,” Baxter said during the sentencing hearing.

Baxter also said Guider was fearful of police because he is Black. McCarty is white.

Carroll County Attorney John Werden, who prosecuted the case, argued Guider’s prison term in Iowa should not be served concurrently with his term in Illinois because of the serious threat of injury posed to McCarty during the chase.

“That is the most reckless driving behavior I’ve seen in my entire career,” said Werden, who has been county attorney for more than 20 years.

In the end, District Associate Judge Joseph McCarville sentenced Guider to up to five years of prison to be served separately from the Illinois incarceration.

McCarville acknowledged that “Officer McCarty probably should have just stepped aside and let you go, because you weren’t wanted for murder,” but said Guider had no reason to be fearful before he tried to flee and then endangered the officer’s life.

“Officer McCarty was polite and respectful when he approached the car, was treating everybody with dignity, and then you kick your girlfriend out of the car and you take off,” McCarville said.

Guider has apologized multiple times for injuring the officer and said he has reformed.





Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted by on May 16 2023. Filed under State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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