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Watch now: Body cam shows moments leading up to Indiana cops being dragged by fleeing suspect's car
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Watch now: Body cam shows moments leading up to Indiana cops being dragged by fleeing suspect's car

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A man told an Indiana judge last month he ended up dragging two police officers with an SUV last year because one of the officers didn't fully explain why he was being arrested.

A body camera video released Thursday by the Lake County, Indiana, Sheriff's Department shows Ernest L. Hoover Jr. heard at least some of the officer's communications with a dispatcher, because Hoover said, "I don't have a warrant" and "I'm not wanted."

Hoover denied during a sentencing hearing Sept. 30 that he could hear any of the officer's communication with dispatch, which can be clearly heard on the officer's body camera video. Hoover was wanted for failure to appear in court in 2011 in a misdemeanor traffic-related case.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Natalie Bokota told Hoover during the sentencing his actions were completely unreasonable and inappropriate.

Body camera video shows events leading up to officers being dragged

A body camera video released Thursday by the Lake County Sheriff's Department shows Ernest L. Hoover Jr., 40, fleeing from a police officer Nov. 23 in Dyer. 

Hoover, 40, of Chicago, had 41 contacts with law enforcement in his background, including nine felony convictions and two misdemeanor convictions, she said.

"You don't need to know at that moment when the officer puts handcuffs on you. That can all get worked out later," Bokota said. "You should know that because of your criminal history."

Ernest L. Hoover Jr.

Ernest L. Hoover Jr.

She sentenced Hoover to six years, with four to be served in the Lake County Community Corrections alternative-placement program and two on probation.

"Until you understand authority means something, you're not going to live the life you want," Bokota said.

The video shows Lake County Sheriff's Officers Alex Gallegos and Michael Maggi, who had arrived to back up Gallegos, struggled with Hoover as he got back into an idling Cadillac SUV early Nov. 23, 2020 in the driveway of a home in the 15000 block of West 103rd Avenue in Dyer.

Hoover put the SUV in reverse and dragged the officers for several feet before they both fell off.

Hoover ran over Gallegos' right foot, and the officer fell and hit his head on concrete.

Maggi testified he suffered injuries to both knees when he fell and was unable to work for more than a month. He still suffers pain in his knees at times, he said.

Hoover's attorney, Michael Woods, said he appreciated police officers for their service, but Gallegos and Maggi put themselves in Hoover's car. 

"There was a better way for this to go all around," Woods said.

Hoover pleaded guilty in July to two counts of resisting law enforcement, a level 5 felony. He could have faced up to eight years in prison under his plea agreement.

As Hoover asked the judge for leniency, he said he felt he'd paid his debts to society and worked hard to get his life on track. If he had known he had a warrant at the time, he would have taken care of it, he said.

In the video, Hoover appeared to think he was at the home of a friend and repeatedly told Gallegos he needed to retrieve a coat from inside.

But the couple inside the home didn't know Hoover, according to court records.

They called police after Hoover woke them about 5:10 a.m. by repeatedly ringing their doorbell and returned about 6:15 a.m., again ringing the doorbell and walking back and forth from their porch to the SUV in the driveway.

After dragging Gallegos and Maggi, Hoover sped off. He later was found and arrested behind a business at 93rd Avenue and U.S. 41 in St. John, where he was attempting to change a flat tire on the SUV.

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