‘You Hit Me With Your Car': Driver Sentenced 3 Years for Hitting Montgomery County Officer

A Maryland man was sentenced to three years in prison on Thursday after he hit a Montgomery County police officer with his car and kept driving.

Lennwood Saunders, 35, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and cocaine possession after he struck Officer Michael Murphy in October 2015 in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

As video footage from Murphy's dashboard-mounted camera shows, the officer was was making a traffic stop when the SUV Saunders was driving side-swiped his body.

Murphy's ribs were injured, but he ran to his car to chase after Saunders along Clopper Road. Eventually, Saunders pulled over.

"You hit me with your car. And you didn't stop. I had to chase you down," Murphy can be heard saying in the video.

"I heard a noise," Saunders mumbles. "I apologize."

"You heard a noise? You almost killed me," Murphy replies.

Montgomery County police soon saw that Saunders had four prior drunken driving convictions.

"We discovered that he had been tried several prior times, six or seven, for suspected DUI, and he had a suspended and revoked license," said Murphy, who recovered from injuries. 

Several county officers have been hit and hurt by drunken drivers in the past three years. Officer Noah Leotta, 24, died in December after he was hit by a driver who police said had a blood alcohol level of 0.22 -- almost three times the legal limit.

Another officer, Cpl. Ponloeu Le, said he was hurt so badly when a drunken driver hit him that he was given a 1 percent chance to live.

"It took me a year to learn to walk all over again," he said.

Maryland lawmakers are considering Noah's Law, named after Leotta, which would make in-car blood alcohol level-testing devices mandatory for anyone convicted of driving drunk. The user blows into a device the size of a cellphone to get a blood alcohol content reading before their vehicle will start.

Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy said an ignition lock wouldn't have prevented Saunders from driving and hitting Murphy. He was driving someone else's car when he hit the officer, the prosecutor said.

Still, supporters of Noah's Law say it will save lives.

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