Note: This story was last updated at 9:55 a.m.
The officer injured in a crash allegedly caused by a fugitive who was fleeing from police on Wednesday has been released from the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, a spokesperson confirmed Friday.
Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Nathan Gibson was injured while trying to make a traffic stop and serve a warrant on Khristoff Deshawn Lee, 24, of Oak Ridge, on South Illinois Avenue at about 12:37 p.m. Wednesday, according to affidavits filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge.
Gibson has been discharged, UT Medical Center spokesperson Susan Wyatt said Friday afternoon. No information is available on his present condition.
It’s not clear what charges might have been in the warrant Gibson was trying to serve on Lee on Wednesday, but a writ of criminal capias had been issued for Lee after he failed to appear at a plea agreement hearing on attempted first-degree murder and robbery charges, among other pending charges, in Anderson County Criminal Court in Clinton on August 14.
A warrant had also been filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge after Lee allegedly failed to appear there on August 22 on charges from 2016 and 2017 that included possession of drug paraphernalia, driving without a license, improper display of plates, failure to appear, possession of narcotics for sale, simple possession of narcotics and drugs, resisting a stop, and evading arrest, according to court records.
Before the crash in Oak Ridge on Wednesday, Gibson, the police officer, had been behind a car, reported to be a silver Lexus four-door sedan, that was traveling north on South Illinois Avenue past Lafayette Drive when he tried to make a traffic stop, according to the affidavits, which were filed by ORPD Officer Stephen Romaine. Officers had information that Lee was in the car.
The car pulled into the Panera Bread parking lot, the affidavits said. The driver had refused to stop before entering the Panera Bread and Aubrey’s Restaurant parking area, and the car proceeded through the parking lot at an unsafe speed, striking at least one other vehicle, the City of Oak Ridge said in a press release on Thursday.
Lee was initially a passenger in the vehicle, but he forced the female driver, identified in court affidavits as Autumn H. Burris, to switch seats with him when he saw officers, the press release said. Lee assaulted Burris while trying to take control of the car, Romaine said in the affidavits.
“Lee physically forced Burris out of the driver’s seat,” the affidavits said. “The vehicle then began to try to evade Officer Gibson while he had activated his emergency lights. Officers had the vehicle boxed in when it drove in the wrong direction of travel and collided with another vehicle as it jumped the curb in an attempt to evade police.”
The vehicle started driving fast on Woodland Terrace and entered the intersection of Woodland Terrace and South Illinois Avenue, where it collided with another passenger vehicle and an Oak Ridge Police Department vehicle, the affidavits said.
The vehicle driven by Lee had two small children in the back seat during the reckless driving and felony evading, Romaine said. Burris said she thought she and her children were going to die and were in “imminent danger of bodily injury,” the affidavits said.
After the crash, Lee fled on foot, according to the affidavits.
“I gave commands to stop and that he was under arrest,” Romaine said. “Lee continued to run on foot through the parking lot of Panera and then attempted to force entry into two different vehicles before being arrested by police.”
Burris and her two children were taken to Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge to be evaluated after the crash, according to court affidavits and information released by the City of Oak Ridge on Thursday.
Gibson was initially taken to MMC for evaluation but then transported to UT Medical Center’s Trauma Center for further treatment, the city said Thursday. Gibson’s canine partner was also checked by a veterinarian for injuries.
Lee has been charged with three felony counts of aggravated assault by motor vehicle, two felony counts of reckless endangerment, one felony count of aggravated domestic assault, and one misdemeanor count of evading arrest and another misdemeanor count of resisting, stop, halt, and frisk.
Additional charges will be filed as the investigation continues, the ORPD said.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating Wednesday’s crash.
Bond for Lee for the charges from Wednesday’s crash—plus previous charges of assault, domestic assault, vandalism, two counts of failure to appear, and a bench warrant—has been set at $282,000 in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge. He remained jailed in the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton on Friday night. It’s not clear from jail records if his bond has been revoked, although there are bond revocation charges listed, including on the attempted first-degree murder charge.
Burris, 18, of Knoxville, was also arrested after Wednesday’s crash. She faces charges of tampering with evidence and simple possession of drugs. She said, during an interview at the Oak Ridge Police Department, that she had grabbed Lee’s “weed,” presumably meaning marijuana, out of a passenger door pocket and hidden it, according to affidavits filed by ORPD Investigator Ben Higgins.
Burris said she concealed the drugs because she has an open case against her with the Department of Children’s Services, the affidavits said.
“The defendant advised that she did not want any more trouble with DCS,” the affidavits said.
Police were not able to retrieve the “weed” from Burris, and Higgins said it was likely flushed down a toilet in a bathroom in the MMC Emergency Department.
Bond for Burris has been set at $26,000. She also has a court date set for April 10 in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge. She also remained jailed in Clinton on Friday night.
Autumn Burris has been listed as a victim in previous cases where Lee is a defendant, including the attempted first-degree murder case, which involved a fetus (Burris’ baby), and charges of assault and aggravated assault by strangulation or attempted strangulation. Status hearings for those cases are scheduled for April 9 in Anderson County Criminal Court in Clinton.
Lee has other pending cases as well, including the robbery, which was an alleged home invasion on Princeton Avenue in September 2014, as well as domestic assault and simple assault charges from November 10, 2017. In the last two charges, Lee is accused of slapping a pregnant woman in the face with a shoe—she wanted to end a relationship with Lee—and slamming another woman’s head into a parked car when she tried to intervene, according to affidavits filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge on November 12.
There are also bond forfeiture proceedings pending against Lee for his failure to appear in Anderson County Criminal Court in Clinton on August 14 (there is a $210,000 bond in that case) and in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge on August 22.
Assistant District Attorney General Ryan M. Spitzer had filed a motion to revoke or increase Lee’s bond or pre-trial release on March 6, 2017, after Lee allegedly fled from Oak Ridge police at speeds of more than 107 miles per hour about a week earlier, on February 26. The motion to revoke and/or increase bond related to charges in five separate indictments, including the attempted first-degree murder and robbery charges.
“The state respectfully asserts that defendant’s conduct, and subsequent conviction, demonstrate that defendant is a risk to the community and therefore requests that defendant’s bond and/or pre-trial release be revoked and/or increased,” Spitzer said in that motion.
It wasn’t immediately clear from court records on Friday if any action was taken to increase or revoke Lee’s bond or pre-trial release.
In February, a bond forfeiture deadline for Lee in Anderson County Criminal Court was extended 90 days to May 28. Lee was expected to surrender to the court by then, after he failed to appear for the August 14 plea hearing, or a judgement would be entered for the state against Lee and his “surety or sureties,” according to the bail forfeiture order.
In March, a bond forfeiture deadline for Lee in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge was extended 60 days. The total value of that bond wasn’t immediately clear Friday night. That pending bond forfeiture was related to his failure to appear in General Sessions Court on the August 22 court date.
Court records don’t give reasons for the forfeiture deadline extensions, other than to cite the arguments of the parties, the demonstration of “good cause,” and the fact that the state and a bonding company had reached an agreement.
In another court action last year, an amended judgement against Lee—he had pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and theft of more than $1,000 in 2010—said his probation had been revoked on a three-year sentence. That sentence was supposed to be consecutive to sentences in three other Criminal Court indictments. Lee was supposed to report to jail on August 4, 2017, at 6 p.m. to serve the sentence after his probation was revoked, but it doesn’t appear that he did, according to jail records.
See previous story on Wednesday’s crash here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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