Langston Palmer
Langston Palmer

Langston Lamar Palmer crossed a line when he shot at a York City police officer chasing him through a west-end breezeway, York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said.

"It's a step over the line. And when you have a person willing to take that step, it says something about their psyche," Kahley said. "Anybody willing to shoot at a police officer wouldn't think twice about shooting at an average citizen."

Palmer, 22, of 609 W. Princess St., maintains his innocence, according to defense attorney Bill Graff.

But he was unable to convince a York County jury, which convicted Palmer of assaulting a law-enforcement officer, recklessly endangering others and carrying a firearm without a license, senior deputy prosecutor RJ Fisher said, despite the fact that it was "an extremely circumstantial case."

Sending a message: On Tuesday, Palmer — known as "Tank" — was sentenced to a total of 20 to 40 years in state prison for his crime.

"I'm hoping it sent a message," Fisher said. "It's not worth pulling a gun and firing at a police officer because we are going to prosecute that person to the fullest extent we can."

Kahley said some people, including Palmer, have forfeited their right to be part of the community.

"There are violent people who need to be in jail," the chief said. "They need to be taken out of society, for the protection of society."

Jurors delivered their verdict on Dec. 4, records state.

Palmer has remained in county prison awaiting Tuesday's sentencing hearing.

The chase: Officer Christopher Roosen was on routine patrol in the 600 block of West Princess Street about 4:15 a.m. Sept. 7, 2012, when he saw what he believed to be a drug deal involving Palmer, court documents state.

Roosen radioed for backup, then tried to stop Palmer, who took off on a bicycle toward West Street, police said.

Palmer jumped off the bike and ran away when Roosen drove alongside him and ordered him to stop, documents state.

Roosen got out of his cruiser and chased Palmer on foot.

As Roosen ran through a breezeway, he heard three or four gunshots that the officer testified sounded as if they were "on top of him," according to Fisher.

'You shot Tank': "When the officer came around the corner, nobody was there," the prosecutor said. "I thought it was very telling that an individual came up to Officer Roosen ... and said, 'You shot Tank! You shot Tank!' That statement shows there were two people involved in the shooting, and we know Officer Roosen didn't fire his weapon."

So even though no one saw Palmer fire a gun that night, "all the evidence lined up to prove (it)," Fisher said.

Police recovered three shell casings from the breezeway, he said, all the same make and caliber.

Took the stand: Palmer testified in his own defense at trial.

"He claimed he had been running from Officer Roosen because he had drugs on him ... but he said he didn't have a weapon. He said he heard the same three shots, but didn't see who fired," Fisher said.

On cross-examination, Palmer admitted he was in the breezeway during the gunfire and didn't see anyone else there, according to the prosecutor.

"I argued (to the jury) the reason he didn't see anybody is because he was the shooter," Fisher said.

Dangerous job: Kahley said there's always a chance that an officer won't make it home safely after a work shift.

"Our officers have to chase people through breezeways and other very confined spaces," he said. "Even if the shooter's aim is off, he stands a good chance of (injuring an officer)."

Fisher said police in York County should be able to do their jobs without fear of being shot or killed.

"They need to know we have their back," he said.

Robber, dealer: Palmer was sentenced Tuesday in two other cases as well; he pleaded guilty in both of them on Dec. 9, court records state.

He received four to eight years for a Dec. 27, 2012, robbery in York City in which he pistol-whipped, beat and kicked a male victim.

He also was sentenced to 14 to 28 months for dealing crack cocaine and marijuana in York City on Jan. 8, 2013, records state.

All three sentences run concurrently.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.