WATERLOO – A Waterloo man at the center of a use-of-force complaint has been sentenced to probation in a lengthy police chase that ended with he crashed into a house, igniting a fire and causing a natural gas leak in April 2016.
Under an agreement with prosecutors, Montavis Terell Keller, 26, entered an Alford plea --- not admitting guilt but acknowledging that he would likely be convicted if the matter went to trial --- to charges of felony eluding and possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
As part of the deal, charges of operating while intoxicated and assault on a peace officer --- for allegedly driving at an officer on foot who was setting Stop Sticks --- were dropped, and a firearm provision --- alleging he was armed --- was removed from the drug charge.
Defense attorney Thomas Frerichs said Keller is a good person who made a stupid mistake.
The chase and crash drew attention months later after the release of a body camera video that showed Keller being struck and his hair being pulled by an officer after he was detained and handcuffed. The officer was disciplined but allowed to keep his job and wasn’t prosecuted.
On Monday, Judge Joel Dalrymple sentenced Keller to two concurrent five-year prison stints suspended to two to five years of probation with up to one year in the Waterloo Residential Facility.
Dalrymple said the sentence was appropriate because of Keller’s young age and his lack of prior criminal history, but he said the offense was a cause for concern.
“The nature of that type of driving not only puts you at risk, puts law enforcement officers at risk, but virtually everybody else on the street, from folks that were just minding their own business going through a green light … The disregard for that type of public safety is a major concern for the court,” Dalrymple said.
Authorities said an officer attempted to pull over Keller’s Nissan Altima in the area of West Sixth and Water streets around 3:45 p.m. on April 19, 2016. The pursuit that followed reached speeds of 90 mph and left the city before returning on Lafayette Street. Shortly after police placed Stop Sticks, the Altima left the roadway and crashed into a home at 2312 Lafayette St. The impact displaced the home’s furnace and started a small fire and a gas leak.
Police allege Keller dropped marijuana as he ran off following the crash, and officers found a loaded Springfield 9mm handgun the vehicle, court records state.