EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 5, 2013

Pelham man sentenced for run-in with police

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — BRENTWOOD — A Pelham man, shot by police during a chase last fall, was sentenced to four to eight years in prison yesterday.

Grant Hebert, 22, pleaded guilty to seven charges, including reckless conduct and aggravated driving while intoxicated, as part of an agreement reached with prosecutors in Rockingham Superior Court.

Hebert stood quietly before Judge Marguerite Wageling as she outlined the charges against him. Assistant County Attorney Jerome Blanchard said Hebert was lucky to be alive following the police pursuit, crashes and gunfire Oct. 28 in Pelham and Windham.

The New Hampshire attorney general’s office ruled police were justified when they fired approximately two dozen shots at Hebert, wounding him. Hebert has been free on bail since the incident.

“It is amazing he is here to plead guilty,” Blanchard said.

Hebert, wearing a blue dress shirt, black pants and tie, did not make a statement in court. He only spoke when questioned by the judge.

The chase began shortly after 1:30 a.m. in Pelham and ended in a Windham field about five minutes later after Pelham police Officer Eugene Stahl tried to stop Hebert for driving 40 mph in a 30-mph zone.

Hebert had been drinking and smoking marijuana before he tried to outrun police, according to the attorney general’s office. He had been charged with marijuana possession five months earlier and had a month of good behavior to complete before the charge would have been dropped dropped from his file, the report said.

When Hebert wouldn’t stop for Stahl, Windham police Officers Christopher Van Hirtum and Shane Mirisola joined the pursuit. Hebert was driving nearly 90 mph when he crashed into a steel fence on Lowell Road in Windham, Blanchard said.

Hebert drove his Hyundai Tiburon toward the officers at one point and struck two cruisers, one from Windham and one from Pelham. All three officers fired at Hebert, inflicting minor wounds.

He received small puncture wounds to one leg and his lower back, swelling around one eye and a bullet fragment under his scalp, the attorney general’s office said. The three officers escaped serious injury.

The two Windham officers attended the plea-and-sentencing hearing, as did Windham police Chief Gerald Lewis.

They declined to speak during the hearing, but after it ended, Lewis said the sentence was appropriate.

“I think it was fair and equitable,” he said. “Justice is served.”

Lewis said it was “an unfortunate incident” and he was glad none of the officers were seriously hurt.

Nearly a dozen of Hebert’s friends and relatives, including his parents, attended, some sobbing when he was led off to prison. Family members declined to comment as they left the courthouse.

But Hebert’s friend, Corey Couillard, 21, of Pelham, said he disagreed with the sentence.

“Do I think the sentence was fair?” Couillard said. “No, but people make bad decisions.”

Couillard said he and Hebert grew up together.

“He’s a great friend,” Couillard said. “He’s one of the best kids I know.”

Hebert could have faced decades in prison if he received the maximum penalties for the 11 charges. Many are felonies, each punishable by up to three and a half to seven years in prison.

He was sentenced on three counts of criminal mischief, two counts of reckless conduct and single counts of aggravated DWI and disobeying a police officer. Two counts of attempted first-degree assault and single counts of DWI and reckless conduct were not prosecuted as part of the plea bargain.

Hebert, or his insurance company, must pay more than $13,000 in restitution for the fence and damaged cruisers. He was also ordered to stay away from the Pelham and Windham police departments.