Two Sheridan County men face multiple felony and misdemeanor charges after an altercation with a Washakie County Sheriff’s deputy and a subsequent manhunt that led to the closure of U.S. Highway 16 for almost five hours.
The Washakie, Johnson, Hot Springs and Big Horn Sheriffs offices, the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, Wyoming Highway Patrol and the U.S. Forest Service assisted in apprehending Cody Veal of Story and Niles Veal of Sheridan (Cody’s father), who were charged Sept. 17 in the Fifth Judicial District Circuit Court, according to reporting by the Northern Wyoming News.
Cody Veal faces up to 13 years in prison, and Niles Veal faces up to 58 years in prison.
The charges stem from an incident on the evening of Sept. 14.
According to the Northern Wyoming News, the Washakie County Dispatch received a report of two men, later identified as the Veals, banging on the caller’s camper at the Leigh Creek Campground at 6:10 p.m.
The reporting party told Deputy Rob Harding, who responded, that the Veals became “irate and confrontational” when asked to pay for the spot where they were parked. Harding observed beer cans and other trash around the area where they had parked.
Harding located the Veals in a white Ford F350 vehicle on Forest Road 422. According to the affidavit, when Harding exited his patrol vehicle, Niles Veal approached him to complain about a crazy person at Leigh Creek Campground.
When speaking with the Veals, Harding could smell alcohol. Cody Veal allegedly admitted to driving, and Harding attempted to arrest him.
The affidavit alleges that Cody Veal resisted Harding’s attempts to handcuff him and place him into the back of his patrol vehicle.
Meanwhile, Niles Veal began to film the arrest, approaching Harding as he did.
Harding said in the affidavit that he pulled Cody onto the ground and told Niles Veal he was under arrest. Niles Veal then allegedly fled. Harding stated that, believing a taser would have minimal impact through Niles Veal’s coat, he did a leg sweep to bring him down. The two wrestled and Niles Veal allegedly attempted to bite the deputy several times.
Cody Veal approached, and the deputy deployed his taser on him with no effect.
The Northern Wyoming News reports that Niles Veal then convulsed and went limp. The deputy was able to get Cody Veal in the vehicle before grabbing his AED, but when he returned to where Niles Veal had been lying, he was gone.
With his body-worn radio not working, Deputy Harding asked a camper to call 911. As he rounded the corner of the camper, he saw Cody Veal getting in the passenger side of his patrol vehicle and Niles Veal getting in the driver’s side.
Niles Veal later told DCI agents that while Harding escorted his son to the deputy’s vehicle, he retrieved a rifle from one of the Veals’ trucks and then assisted Cody Veal in getting out of the back, according to the Northern Wyoming News’ report.
The Veals allegedly threatened the deputy as they turned the vehicle around and drove toward Harding. Harding saw that the Veals were now armed.
As the Veals drove in Harding’s direction, the deputy emptied his magazine into the windows and body of the pickup while seeking cover. He reloaded and continued to fire as he moved into the trees. He said the Veals went past his position and drove westbound on U.S. Highway 16 in his patrol vehicle.
Harding was located safe and uninjured. The patrol vehicle was later discovered unoccupied 2 miles west of where the altercation occurred. Harding’s personal shotgun was missing from the vehicle.
From 9:48 p.m. Sept. 14 to 2:30 a.m. Sept. 15, law enforcement shut down U.S. Highway 16 West while they searched for the Veals.
The Veals were found walking along Highway 16 at 2:30 a.m. Washakie County Sheriff Steve Rakness told the Northern Wyoming News that the Veals were apprehended by Wyoming DCI agents without incident.
Cody Veal has been charged with felony escape from official detention and burglary, facing up to 13 years in prison. He has also been charged with misdemeanor littering, breach of peace and two counts of interference with a peace officer.
Niles Veal has been charged with five felony counts and could face up to 58 years in prison — escape by violence or while armed, accessory before the fact to escape, aggravated burglary, one count of theft for stealing a Washakie County Sheriff’s Department patrol vehicle and one count of theft for stealing a Browning Auto 5 shotgun. He also has been charged with the four misdemeanors — littering, breach of peace and two counts of interference, according to the Northern Wyoming News.
The escape by violence, burglary and two theft charges have a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. The accessory charge and escape from detention each are punishable by up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to $3,000. The aggravated burglary charge is punishable by imprisonment of up to 25 years and a fine of up to $50,000.
Both men posted $7,500 cash bonds and were released on Friday.