A police pursuit of a speeding SUV through Scarboro on Monday ended when Oak Ridge Police Chief James T. Akagi tackled one of two men who ran from the vehicle, and backup officers apprehended the second, court records said.
In affidavits filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court, Akagi said he was in an unmarked police car turning left onto Tulsa Road from Tusculum Drive at about 5:10 p.m. Monday when he heard screeching tires and saw a Ford Explorer approaching him from behind at high speed.
The chief said he quickly turned left onto Tulsa Road and pulled to the right to avoid being struck. The Explorer did not stop and swerved right onto Tulsa Road, Akagi said in the affidavits.
He said he followed the vehicle down Tuskegee Drive, and Wilberforce, South Dillard, South Benedict, and Spelman avenues. It allegedly ran a stop sign on Tuskegee Drive, ignored other traffic control devices, and drove left of the center line and at speeds up to 25 mph over the speed limit.
“The vehicle drove on streets where pedestrians were present walking near the sidewalk or street,” Akagi said. “I observed some of these subjects flee the traffic lane near the intersection of South Dillard and South Benedict avenues, seemingly in fear, when the suspects’ vehicle approached.”
After the Explorer stopped on Spelman Avenue, the driver—later identified as Landon Duvall Thomas—and Justin M. Harris, the passenger, ran from the vehicle, the affidavits said. Akagi said he ran after them on foot, yelling, “Police! Stop!”
The two men ran about 50 yards across a grassy field toward a shed behind a home on South Benedict Avenue, Akagi said. By now, backup police officers had arrived, and Thomas and Harris were caught, the police chief said.
He said he tackled Harris, who is described in warrants as being 6’4″ and 240 pounds, but Harris refused to follow commands to stop resisting. Harris also allegedly resisted the chief’s efforts to handcuff him, “struggling violently to free his left hand from my grasp,” Akagi said.
He also “refused to place his right hand behind his back and tried to rise off his stomach from the ground,” the chief said.
“Officer (Roy) Heinz helped me in securing Mr. Harris, while Mr. Thomas was tackled and secured by Officer (Chris) Bayless and other officers,” Akagi said.
Harris, 22, has been released from the Anderson County Detention Facility, and he has a court hearing scheduled for Feb. 12. He has been charged with evading arrest, and resisting stop, halt, frisk, arrest, or search, county records said.
Thomas, 26, has also been released, and he has a court hearing scheduled for Feb. 25. He has been charged with reckless driving, evading arrest, and resisting stop, halt, frisk, arrest, or search, records said.