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Pennsylvania men acquitted of most charges after attacking game warden

Game warden disarmed and injured following fight during hunting violation investigation

Photo credit: Dreamstime

A jury has acquitted two Pennsylvania men of aggravated assault and disarming a law enforcement officer after they were accused of attacking a game warden who was investigating a hunting violation last December. Instead, Wade Michael Winemiller and Thomas Early Kelly Jr. will be charged with lesser offenses later this month, the York Dispatch reports. 

Pennsylvania Game Commission Deputy Warden David Fidler was investigating a possible deer poaching incident in a “wooded area off Peach Mountain Road in Norwegian Township,” according to the York Dispatch. Officials say the deer had been shot “possibly by someone on an ATV.” While Fidler was investigating the trail, Winemiller and Kelly drove up on ATVs. When Fidler asked them to stop, both men took off, but they didn’t get very far. One ATV stalled; the other rolled when the man tried to drive it up a mountain. 

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According to the York Dispatch, the men refused to cooperate with Fidler when he tried to detain them. During the ordeal, Fidler pulled out his gun when Kelly made a threatening gesture with his fist, then put it away and “started examining one of the ATVs;” however, when Kelly “allegedly punched or tried to punch him,” Fidler used pepper spray on him. Reports indicate that the men started chasing Fidler, who “again unholstered his gun.” At that point, Kelly grabbed Fidler’s arm and “pushed it downward” before the two men started to struggle; Fidler “hunched over” to keep the gun near his body. 

“Fidler then turned his firearm's muzzle to his left side, where (Kelly) was ... and discharged one round,” which went into the ground, according to court documents.

Both men fled on their ATVs at that point and the game warden was treated at a nearby hospital for his injuries, ABC27 News reports. Neither man was dressed in hunting clothes, according to police.

Police later tracked down Winemiller and Kelly, finding the ATVs that the men used in Winemiller’s garage. However, a jury found the men not guilty of the more serious charges against them and, instead, the men will be convicted of lesser charges that include resisting arrest, harassment and disorderly conduct. 

6 Comments

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Ben_4
Bendrix B. - posted 5 months ago on 01-05-2020 07:29:07 am
Rochester, MA
goHUNT INSIDER

Joseph T. Check your facts. Game Wardens are law enforcement. They enforce laws, issue citations, have the power to arrest, and in this state, can conduct searches without a warrant, unlike all other law enforcement. You could always try violating a game law, all of which are in the same section of laws on your state website as all other laws, in the presence of a game warden, and tell him to pound sand if he tries to arrest you, since he ain’t a law enforcement officer. Good luck. Let us know how that works out! :)

preachinprairie
Joseph T. - posted 5 months ago on 12-12-2019 08:15:36 pm
Lost River, Idaho
goHUNT INSIDER

A Game Warden is not law enforcement. It sounds like something was amuck from the start, and it got worse with a very trigger happy game warden.

Gary H. - posted 5 months ago on 12-12-2019 06:08:21 am
goHUNT INSIDER

Something tells me there was a LOT more to this story....

Ben_4
Bendrix B. - posted 5 months ago on 12-10-2019 05:03:21 pm
Rochester, MA
goHUNT INSIDER

No excuses for failure to cooperate with law enforcement. Those boys engaged in assault and should have gotten time for it.

Jordan B. - posted 5 months ago on 12-07-2019 05:36:37 am
goHUNT INSIDER

That seems like a very poor judgement, I am assuming the game officer identified himself and was also wearing a uniform and badge. People need to respect the law and more importantly the fine individuals that protect and uphold those laws.

Gary H. - posted 6 months ago on 12-05-2019 11:00:20 am
goHUNT INSIDER

Well....that certainly "escalated quickly"