Federal Grand Jury Indicts Man for Illegal Possession of a Firearm and Drugs
A federal grand jury has indicted Demetrius O. Ward, 42, for Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Possession of a Controlled Substance in connection with his illegal possession of a stolen, loaded 9mm Taurus handgun and a bag of heroin, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois Steven D. Weinhoeft, announced today. Documents filed in the U.S. District Court allege that Ward was found to be in possession of a loaded firearm and baggie of heroin after he fled from a St. Clair County Sheriff’s Deputy and crashed into a pole on January 19, 2019.
Felon in Possession of a Firearm carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine up to $250,000. If convicted of the drug offense, Ward faces up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
"I recognize that we live in a time, and in a region, where officer-involved shootings are flashpoints that are capable of sparking extremely emotional reactions," said United States Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft. "In moments like these, it is particularly important to calmly and objectively assess the facts to separate right from wrong."
US Attorney Weinhoeft continued, "The facts in this case show that Demetrius Ward created an incredibly dangerous situation by crashing his car while speeding away from the police, and then fleeing on foot, before reaching for a stolen .9 mm handgun in front of an officer who was forced to make a decision that no police officer should have to make. Thankfully, no one was killed. But the case reminds us why it is important to deter people from unlawfully possessing and using firearms, and of the dangers faced by the men and women in law enforcement who put their personal safety at risk on every shift to keep the rest of us safe."
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This prosecution is the result of a collaborative investigation by the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, the Illinois States Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, that charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.