SNOW HILL — A Pennsylvania man charged in July with first-degree assault after pistol-whipping another man was sentenced last week to three years, all but 90 days of which were suspended.
Michael Taxacher, 29, of Connellsville, Pa., last Wednesday entered Alford pleas to reckless endangerment and carrying on a handgun on his person during the incident last July 17. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to prosecute the case.
For the reckless endangerment plea, Taxacher was sentenced to three years, all of which was suspended. For the handgun possession plea, Taxacher was sentenced to three years, all but 90 days of which was suspended. He was also placed on supervised probation for two years upon his release.
Around 12:40 a.m. last July 17, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers were dispatched to a reported assault in the area of 2nd Street and Baltimore Avenue. A witness reportedly told officers he had witnessed a fight between two groups of individuals and had captured a portion of the altercation on video.
OCPD officers watched the portion of video and observed a male suspect later identified as Taxacher, pointing an object later determined to be a handgun at a male victim, who had his hands raised and was holding what appeared to be a shoe, according to police reports.
While the victim was still standing with his hands raised, Taxacher allegedly walked toward the victim and struck him in the face with the handgun. Taxacher’s strike was a straight punch to the left eye with the front of the firearm. In the video, the victim is seen falling backward and remained on the ground for the entire segment, according to police reports.
In the video, Taxacher is seen walking away from the victim while carrying the handgun down to his side, according to police reports. Taxacher was located and detained. The victim sustained major injuries to his face and left eye and was transported to Atlantic General Hospital by Ocean City EMS.
Before being transported, the victim was interviewed by Ocean City Police and admitted there had been a fight between he and Taxacher and other unknown males. The victim admitted at one point he pulled out a knife to defend himself because he feared for his life during the altercation. The victim could not remember at which point in the altercation he pulled out the knife, according to police reports.
OCPD officers interviewed Taxacher, who reportedly told police he and his group, including their female companions, were walking home from a bar when they encountered the victim on the second-floor porch of his rental unit. Taxacher said words were exchanged and the victim came down from his porch, according to police reports.
Taxacher said there was modest scuffle on the ground between he and the victim, and at some point, the victim pulled out a knife. Taxacher said his vehicle was parked about 50 feet away and he told his girlfriend to unlock it. Taxacher told police he opened the driver’s door and retrieved his handgun from the center console, according to police reports. Taxacher reportedly told police “I should have shot his [expletive deleted.]”
Taxacher reportedly told police the gun was loaded, but he didn’t keep a round in the chamber. Taxacher told officers he racked the slide of his firearm as he walked back toward the victim, according to police reports. Taxacher reportedly told police “I’m scared to take someone’s life, but the dude had a knife,” according to police reports. Taxacher reportedly told police he had his gun drawn on the victim and told officers, “He’s lucky to be alive,” according to police reports.
Taxacher admitted hitting the victim, but said he could not remember if he punched him with his hand or the weapon. Officers obtained the keys to Taxacher’s vehicle and retrieved the Sig Sauer 9mm handgun. A check with communications revealed Taxacher was the registered owner of the weapon. According to police reports, the gun had blood splatter and human tissue on it.