Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

April 23, 2013

Man leads police on extended chase after hit and run

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — An out-of-control driver who led authorities on an extensive vehicle chase through town Sunday night was taken, while in custody, for medical treatment after an officer was forced to use what was essentially an entire can of pepper spray to subdue him.

“The driver basically made a complete circle around town,” explained Jacksonville Police Det. Sgt. Daniel Franklin.

Jacksonville Police Chief Reece Daniel said when cornered, the suspect went as far as to purposely ram a police car with his vehicle.

“Even after using a can of pepper spray it still took three officers to subdue him,” Daniel said. “One officer was slightly injured and the suspect is in jail.”

The suspect, Christo-pher Jett, 29, remained in custody Monday afternoon, police reports show.

Officers responding to calls of a hit and run in the vicinity of East Rusk and Larissa noticed the speeding vehicle driven by Jett.

The chase began near that intersection and extended from there to Larissa and down  several other city blocks at speeds of at least 65 mph.

“He was driving dangerously – sometimes on the wrong side of the road,” Franklin said. “He nearly hit several vehicles because he kept turning wide. At one point at Teena and South Jackson he turned and almost caused an accident trying to avoid a patrol unit.”

Jett ended up driving across US Hwy 69, continually running stop signs. He turned and drove up Beaumont, continuing to Beaumont and Brookside, and then, ultimately ending up back on Rusk.

Finally, at Brookside and Rusk, the driver was forced to stop because his way was blocked by a patrol unit on one lane of traffic and a Tahoe on the other.

“He tried to run between the unit and the Tahoe, tried to force and accelerate them out of his way on the highway,” Franklin said.

“He tried to use his vehicle to force the cars out of his way – to the point where there was white smoke from his tires.”

While this was happening, a Jacksonville police sergeant made his way to the suspect’s drivers side window and told him to exit the vehicle. The suspect ignored him so the officer sprayed him with pepper spray.

Another Jacksonville officer and one Texas Department of Public Safety trooper, managed to drag the driver out of the vehicle and place him in an ambulance. The driver was fighting the entire time and the officers had to restrain him, Franklin said.

Authorities found alcohol in his vehicle. He was arrested on suspicion of  assault against a peace officer, a first degree felony; evading arrest, a third degree felony; criminal mischief, a state jail felony; and failure to stop and exchange infuriation, a class B misdemeanor. He also was issued numerous driving related citations.

The chase started about 8 p.m. with a hit and run accident involving the vehicle of Jacksonville ISD Superintendent Joe War-dell. Wardell declined to discuss specifics of the accident but did commend the police department for responding quickly.

“I appreciate the response by our police department and their professionalism with my wife and I from the time of the accident to the time that they finished gathering information later last night,” Wardell said.