Man pleads guilty to officer assault in I-81 chase

WOODSTOCK — As part of a plea agreement, a Washington, D.C., man pleaded guilty on Friday to a long list of charges stemming from a police chase in April 2016.

Brandon Deshawn McClaney, 32, was originally charged with attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer when he almost hit Capt. Wes Dellinger with the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office during part of the chase on Interstate 81.

A plea agreement in the case amended the attempted capital murder charge to malicious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer as it was determined that McClaney never intended to run over Dellinger, but was trying to escape the police and Dellinger was in McClaney’s path, Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wisely said.

Dellinger, who had been alerted to the Interstate 81 chase on April 23, 2016, was trying to lay out a spike strip at a crossover to stop McClaney from continuing to elude police; McClaney had used the crossovers on Interstate 81 multiple times during the chase before reaching Dellinger.

McClaney tried to avoid hitting Dellinger, and hit Dellinger’s car in the process. Dellinger had to dive to avoid being hit by the vehicle, injuring his knee and back in the process. The strip caused a tire on the 2011 Mazda CX-7 McClaney was driving to burst, and police were able to stop McClaney and arrest him without incident at that point.

Wisely noted for Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp that Dellinger expressed approval of the plea agreement.

McClaney entered an Alford plea of guilty to malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer and destruction of property with intent, meaning that McClaney maintains his innocence but is pleading guilty for the benefit of a less severe charge. McClaney also pleaded guilty to assault and battery of a law enforcement officer, felony eluding police, failing to stop at the scene of the accident. Additionally, he pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless driving: one for speeding–McClaney was clocked at over 100 mph–and one for behavior.

The prosecution dismissed all other charges against McClaney. Sentencing was not part of the plea agreement, and McClaney is facing two years and six months as mandatory minimum sentences on the charges of malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer and assault and battery of a law enforcement officer.

McClaney faces a maximum sentence of 57 years imprisonment. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 3 in Shenandoah County Circuit Court.