State prison for fleeing fugitive shot by York City cops
A North York felon and then-fugitive who told family members he wasn't going to go back to jail has been sentenced to years in state prison.
James Michael Armentrout Jr., known as Mike, was sentenced to a total of 7½ to 15 years in three separate criminal cases. He was shot by York City Police as he tried to flee capture from a busy parking lot more than a year ago.
Armentrout, 45, formerly of East Fifth Avenue, was shot in the right calf as he drove his SUV at officers trying to arrest him in the parking lot of 3rd Base Food & Beer, 512 N. George St., about 8:30 p.m. June 18, 2016, police have said.
He fled the scene and was captured some time later.
Police said it was the second time in two nights that Armentrout fled arrest. The night before he was shot, he successfully evaded York City officers by spurring a high-speed police chase.
Police were trying to arrest Armentrout, who was wanted for simple assault on the mother of his child as well as endangering the welfare of that child. He pleaded guilty to both charges Friday, which was his sentencing hearing.
No aggravated assault: Public defender Ron Jackson Jr. said it was a negotiated plea agreement that called for Armentrout's sentence in the domestic-assault/child-endangerment case to run concurrently with his other two cases.
"He exercised his right to trial because he has, from the beginning, denied the aggravated assault charge," Jackson said. On May 17, a jury acquitted Armentrout of that offense.
For the 3rd Base encounter, jurors found Armentrout guilty of fleeing police, reckless endangerment, driving with a suspended license and causing an accident involving damage to an attended vehicle or property.
For the earlier police chase, they found him guilty of fleeing police, reckless driving, driving with a suspended license and running a red light.
Justified shooting: District Attorney Tom Kearney in May announced he had reviewed the police-involved shooting and determined York City Officers Paul Thorne and Sean Haggarty were justified in firing on the fleeing Armentrout.
In a 28-page memorandum, Kearney noted that officers were forewarned Armentrout had made statements indicating he wasn't going back to prison.
Officers were waiting in the car-wash bays outside 3rd Base to arrest Armentrout, who was there to meet his child's mother, Savanna Foller, according to the memorandum. Foller was one of the victims in Armentrout's domestic-assault/child-endangerment case. The couple's young child is the other alleged victim.
Foller was working with police to help them capture the fugitive, according to Kearney.
Officers tried to surround Armentrout's white GMC Yukon SUV, but he drove in reverse to get away, then "tried to dodge other vehicles in the parking lot in order to flee from the police officers," the memorandum states.
Ran into SUV: At one point, Armentrout had to quickly stop the SUV to avoid hitting another car. That caused Haggarty, who was chasing the SUV on foot, to run into the back of it, the memorandum states.
Police used cruisers to try to block Armentrout's escape routes, while Haggarty and a second officer chased the SUV on foot, yelling for Armentrout to stop, according to the memorandum.
Armentrout drove the SUV directly at officers, including Thorne, who was standing in the lot with his handgun drawn, the memorandum states. Armentrout also drove straight at police cruisers, according to the document.
"At the time this was occurring, there were numerous patrons in the parking lot, both on foot and in vehicles, but (Armentrout) kept driving through the parking lot in order to evade arrest," the memorandum states.
"He was aware that a minor league baseball game was occurring in their immediate vicinity with a significant amount of pedestrian traffic," Kearney wrote.
Got away again: As the SUV headed toward Thorne, both Thorne and Haggarty fired at it, police have said. The SUV was struck a number of times, but Armentrout was hit by just one bullet, officials have said.
He managed to maneuver the SUV out of the parking lot, then fled south on North George Street at a high rate of speed, hitting another vehicle in the process, according to the memorandum.
Haggarty again fired at the SUV as it fled, Kearney said.
Armentrout continued to flee in the SUV for several minutes but ran out of gas, the memorandum states. He then called his sister to pick him up and take him to Hanover Hospital, where he was arrested.
Armentrout's sister and brother had both previously tried to convince him to turn himself in on the domestic-assault warrant, according to Kearney.
'Imminent danger': Both Thorne and people in the area were "in imminent danger of immediate serious bodily injury or death" from Armentrout, the district attorney wrote.
Less imminent, "but still looming," Kearney wrote, was "the grave risk to members of the general public by one who had the day before eluded police while involved in a high-speed chase through a metropolitan area and was now doing so again, this time possibly in the midst of exiting fans of a baseball game and clearly on a well-traveled main city thoroughfare."
Senior deputy prosecutor Sue Emmons, who prosecuted Armentrout, was unavailable for comment Monday.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.