WELLSTON, Missouri (KMOV) – A 20-year-old man shot in the face by a police officer is now out of surgery. Wellston police said the man tried to run over the officer in a stolen car. Police also said he had a 12-year-old girl with him.
Authorities said the driver floored it as he veered toward the officer, hitting a power pole with such force that the car nearly cracked it in half.
"I saw when the guy got shot!" Lydia Davis said. She was standing on her porch across the street when the shooting happened.
With neighbors looking on, Wellston police say an officer was forced to shoot the driver, Eric Porter, when they say he gunned his car toward a veteran officer.
"After several orders for the driver to show his hands, he refused to do so," Wellston Police Chief G. Thomas Walker said. "He started the vehicle up and drove directly at one of our officers, who had positioned himself in front of the vehicle."
That is when the officer fired one shot which hit Porter in the face, according to authorities. He is expected to survive.
"The cop backed up a little bit and said it again, 'get out the car, get out the car!'" Davis said. "But there is no mistake... that I heard 'pow pow' and then that car - 'boom!' - that car sped off, like it wanted to speed off, but it hit that pole instead."
"[The officer] definitely was in fear of his life and had the vehicle not veered, it most likely would have struck him," Chief Walker said.
It happened at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday after neighbors called police about an unfamiliar car on their street. They didn't recognize it because police say it had been stolen from St. Louis on Monday.
"We appreciate the calls from residents," Chief Walker said. "That call saved us from a stolen vehicle getting away and possibly another crime that could have been committed."
Chief Walker said a 12-year-old run-away from East St. Louis was also with the 20-year-old. He doesn't know how the two might know each other. Porter is recovering in a hospital while the investigation continues. Bond was set at $20,000 for a charge of assault on a law enforcement officer, second degree.
The officer who fired his weapon is a 15-year police veteran who has been with Wellston for three and a half years. He is on leave while the investigation continues.