A Texarkana man who fired at police officers after robbing a local branch of Bank of the Ozarks earlier this year was sentenced to 177 months in prison Monday by a federal judge in Texarkana.
Dixon Kelley, 43, appeared with Texarkana attorney Craig Henry for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III Monday afternoon on charges of armed bank robbery and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Kelley pleaded guilty to both charges at a hearing in August.
Henry told the judge that Kelley, who has no prior criminal history, was suffering from serious financial and personal problems at the time of the offense and suggested that Kelley may have been attempting to commit “suicide by cop” when he fired a shot at Texarkana, Texas, Police Department Officer Jeremy Courtney as he exited his patrol car April 5.
Kelley was wearing black gloves, black pants, a black hoodie and a mask when he robbed tellers at gunpoint that morning, walking away with just over $5,000 in the bank’s money. Kelley’s black Dodge Charger was quickly spotted by police after the robbery and a short chase ended when the Charger became stuck in a muddy field. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ross argued that Courtney and the officers who arrived moments after Courtney exercised “exemplary restraint” when they chose not to use deadly force against Kelley.
After Kelley fired one shot which hit and disabled Courtney’s patrol car, he attempted to fire a second but his gun jammed. Officers apprehended Kelley as he attempted to flee into nearby woods.
Ross argued that the officers likely realized Kelley’s pistol wasn’t working and were trained not to shoot under the circumstances. Ross emphasized the fear felt by the bank teller in whose face a masked Kelley pointed a loaded firearm.
Schroeder said that while he believes Kelley’s criminal conduct was unusual conduct for him, he could not overlook the seriousness of it.
“This is a serious crime. A violent crime. You wore gloves and a mask and pointed a firearm at a bank teller,” Schroeder said. “You fired at a police officer and attempted to fire again but your gun malfunctioned.”
Schroeder told Kelley he hopes he takes advantage of programs in prison which could enable him to learn new job skills. Schroeder sentenced Kelley to 14 years and nine months in federal prison. Kelley will receive credit for time spent in federal custody. He will be supervised by federal probation for five years upon release.