Questions raised about chase with Rutherford County theft suspect

(Mug: Rutherford County Sheriff's Office)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A man wanted in several cities and counties is off the streets, but his arrest came at a cost.

The suspect, Jon Canada Lovvorn, 41, is accused of nearly hitting deputies head-on during a chase, leaving three patrol cars damaged.

The question is why did Rutherford County officers continue a dangerous pursuit for a man wanted on property theft crimes?

Dash camera video from two Smyrna Police Department cruisers details the July 19 contact with Lovvorn. At the time, he was suspected of stealing two jet skis.

(Courtesy: Smyrna Police Department )

During the stop, Lovvorn starts the pickup he’s driving and burns rubber as he evade officers.

Lovvorn is no stranger to law enforcement.

“Not only was he evading us, but he got away from Murfreesboro, he got away from La vergne, he got away from Rutherford County, he got away from Bedford County,” said Smyrna Police Chief Kevin Arnold.

Lovvorn is long gone before Smyrna officers can get to him.

“We never actually even got in pursuit of him,” Arnold told News 2. “He was able to get away before we were able to do anything.”

(Courtesy: Smyrna Police Department )

Fast forward to Aug. 6. Rutherford County deputies were told Lovvorn might be in the area.

During roll call, Major Steve Spence reminded officers not to pursue him since he’s only wanted for property theft crimes.

Later that night, deputies respond to a call of a stolen trailer in the Barfield Crescent area. Officers spot Lovvorn in a driveway on Harrison Road and attempted to block him.

According to an arrest warrant, Lovvorn drives directly at deputies. The officers are forced to swerve to keep from getting hit.

That’s when they begin chasing him.

Lovvorn reportedly runs over spike strips on Highway 231, and then drives another 10 miles before the chase ends on Interstate 24 near I-840.

Days later, News 2 learns three Rutherford County sheriff’s patrol cars were damaged during the chase.
One cruiser sustained $5,000 to $6,000 worth of damage, according to officials.

“Vehicles were damaged during different stages of the incident,” department spokeswoman Lisa Marchesoni told News 2.

When News 2 reached out to Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh about the pursuit, he responded by email and said, “I am concerned about the welfare of our employees and our community. You have to weigh the factors and step back and consider the person breaking the law versus the good of the community.”

The sheriff’s office confirms that during the chase, deputies used the Pursuit Intervention Technique, also known as a PIT maneuver. This is where a patrol car is used to bump a suspect’s car in hopes of stopping them.

News 2 asked if the Rutherford deputies who used the maneuver were trained to do so. The department wouldn’t confirm, referred us to the policy, but said a supervisor signed off on it.

Sheriff’s officials are not releasing the names of the officers involved since the case is under investigation.

They did say they followed policy when it came to the pursuit and use of the PIT maneuver.

“The policy of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office is that no pursuit shall be automatically approved or denied. Each pursuit should be evaluated on the facts and circumstances of that particular incident. Supervising unit shall develop clear and articulable reasons to pursue or not to pursue in every instance by following the guidance throughout this directive.”

“The Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT Maneuver) should only be used by deputies certified or trained in the technique. However, those personnel are not always available. The supervisor controlling the pursuit can authorize the use of the maneuver by non-pit certified personnel but only in exigent and justifiable circumstances where loss of life or serious bodily injury is imminent. The supervisor must consider all factors regarding the safety of all involved or not involved in the pursuit.”

All the deputies remain on active duty.

News 2 also requested a copy of the dash cam video from the chase. The sheriff’s office said it’s considered evidence and won’t be released at this time.

Meantime, Rutherford County is still involved in a legal battle stemming from a previous chase.

Last summer, Rutherford and Coffee County deputies were involved in this pursuit of Garieon Simmons, who was in a stolen funeral home vehicle.

It ended in a crash on S. Church Street that left Jessica Campos, 28, dead. Her family later filed a $10 million lawsuit against Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.

“Since this case is still being litigated, we cannot comment,” Marchesoni told News 2.

Lovvorn was already wanted on several counts of theft of property charges and unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. He’s facing new charges in Rutherford County for theft of property, evading arrest, and aggravated assault.

He remains in the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center.