Suspect crashes after Lawrence County deputy uses pit maneuver in high-speed chase

(Courtesy: Lawrence County Sheriff's Office)

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A wanted suspect is behind bars Wednesday night after a wild, high-speed chase that only ended when a Lawrence County deputy purposefully caused him to crash.

It all began just after 1 p.m. Tuesday when deputies got into the chase with man later identified as James Howard.

Investigators say he had warrants for his arrest, and he refused to pull over for a constable in the county.

(Courtesy: Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office)

“I was doing 80 at one point, and this is in a 35,” said Lt. Melinda Brewer.

Authorities said the 36-year-old is well-known to area law enforcement

But at the time of the chase, deputies say they didn’t know who was driving the car and why they wouldn’t stop.

A deputy reportedly sees the driver reach under his seat, making law officers believe he might be armed.

Dash cam video from Lt. Brewer’s Ford Explorer shows the chase, which, at times, was dangerous on traffic-filled roads.

“He is running vehicles off the road, almost struck the captain,” Brewer told News 2.

Law enforcement try to box the car it. When it fails, Lt. Brewer takes the lead and gets behind the speeding driver.

Howard reportedly still won’t stop, and then makes contact with her Explorer.

(Courtesy: Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office)

The 23-year veteran officer attempts a pit maneuver, a deliberate act to wreck the car. Video shows the impact, but it’s hard and fast, sending Howard’s Dodge Stratus up a steep embankment where it goes airborne.

It then flips two times before coming to rest on the side of the road.

Thinking the Dodge might land on top of her unit, Brewer punches the gas to get clear.

Pictures at the scene show the Dodge has major damage. The lieutenant’s cruiser is also damaged, though not nearly as bad.

Lt. Melinda Brewer (Photo: WKRN)

Deputies say they searched for a gun and didn’t find any weapons.

Investigators say Howard was not belted in and fell on top of her when the car rolled. Both were taken to the hospital as a precaution but neither was seriously hurt.

Brewer says this is the first time she has ever used the pit maneuver. She says her fellow officers have been joking on her good naturedly.

“They said that was the best ‘Dukes of Hazard’ move they ever saw,” she told News 2.

Howard was charged with a slew of felonies, including evading arrest, reckless endangerment, and DUI. His bond was set at $110,000.