Detroit, MI – A United States military veteran who shot at a car fleeing from police has been convicted of a misdemeanor reckless discharge of a firearm offense.
The suspect officers were pursuing was never charged by the prosecutor's office, WDIV reported.
“It was a slap in the face,” William Eckel told WDIV on Tuesday, after he was sentenced to two years of probation for the act.
The veteran’s home security camera captured the moment that the suspect led officers on a pursuit past Eckel’s Brightmoor residence in May.
"I perceive his car turning towards me,” Eckel recounted to WDIV. “I immediately grab my sidearm and draw to a low-ready.”
“As I have it at the low-ready, the car corrects, drives over the curb, and that’s where you see me run up on the video and take one shot, directly at the engine, and disabled the car,” Eckel explained.
Eckel was originally charged with two felony gun offenses for his role in stopping the fleeing felon, his attorney, Nicholas Somberg told the news outlet.
The veteran argued that it was his right to protect his neighborhood by helping the officers.
"The law allows you to stop a fleeing felon,” Somberg agreed. “My client had a right to stop him.”
On Tuesday, Eckel pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of reckless discharge of a firearm in order to avoid the potential of a 15-year prison sentence.
With a wife and four kids at home, it wasn’t a risk he was willing to take, WDIV reported.
He maintained that he did nothing wrong by stopping the motorist, and said his conviction conveys the wrong message about helping police and stopping dangerous offenders.
“If you’re a good, stand-up citizen and Samaritan, and you do the right thing, you’re gonna be charged with multiple felonies,” Eckel said.
As part of the plea bargain, the veteran will not be allowed to possess firearms in his home for a period of two years. He is prohibited from carrying a firearm in public for the next eight years, WDIV reported.