Cigarette Butt Sparks Nearly 120 MPH Chase in Dickson County

Cigarette Butt Sparks Nearly 120 MPH Chase in Dickson County

Dickson County, Tenn. (Jen French) — A Dickson County Sheriff’s pursuit that killed two and sent others to the hospital started over a cigarette butt, according to a deputy’s report.

Being at the wrong place at the wrong time landed 29-year-old Heath Hensley in the hospital. He just happened to be driving on Highway 70 on October 23 at approximately 10:00 PM in Dickson while a deputy was chasing another car.

The deputy was chasing driver Christopher Scott.  According to a Dickson County Sheriff’s report, he saw 41-year-old Scott throw a lit cigarette out of the window. That’s when he turned on his blue lights and attempted to make a traffic stop, but it ended up sparking a nearly 120 mile per hour chase.

Christopher Scott eventually crashed head on into Hensley, triggering a collision that involved a total of four cars.

“”We got hit on the front back and both sides,” Hensley said.

Hensley was flown to Vanderbilt, where he spent more than a week recovering. He’s now in a wheelchair, anxiously waiting to recover. He has ruptured intestine, busted knee, broken elbow and broken thumb.

“My ankle has pins in it,” Hensley said. “My heel is crushed.”

He won’t be able to take his casts off until January. His friend, who was in the passenger seat, is still recovering at Vanderbilt.

A sheriff’s report reveals 38-year-old Cherish Austin was in the passenger seat of the fleeing Cadillac.

Scott and Austin were killed instantly when they crashed head-on into Hensley.

“The guy should not have fled to begin with,” Hensley said. “He should not have run, but there should not have been a high-speed chase on that road that fast over a cigarette.”

The deputy only disclosed the disposed cigarette as the reason for initiating the traffic stop in his report. His narrative reveals he continued the pursuit believing the driver “might be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.” At the time, the deputy wrote he wasn’t close enough to get the license plate number on the vehicle.

At the time of the crash, Christopher Scott had no outstanding warrants. According to a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation criminal background check, Scott’s last charge was in 2010 for promoting the manufacturing of methamphetamine in 2010 in Dickson County.

Austin did have an outstanding warrant in the City of Dickson. According to a TBI criminal background check, Dickson City Police arrested her for shoplifting in 2013. She has been charged numerous times for failing to show up to court, being in contempt of court or writing worthless checks.

Deputies discovered a meth pipe and three syringes in the car after the two died.

FOX 17 asked the Dickson County Sheriff’s Office to explain their pursuit policy, but due to a potential lawsuit, they’re unable to comment on their policy to media at this time.

FOX 17 asked Fraternal Order of Police President and Metro Nashville Police Sgt. Danny Hale when it’s appropriate to chase someone. Sgt Hale has been a Metro officer for more than 30 years. He says each department is different and rural agencies have different standards than metropolitan ones.

“If this person is wanted for some minor thing, [Metro is] they’re going to tell you to discontinue,” Sgt. Hale said. “There’s no point in putting anybody at risk.”

Nashville’s gridlock is a stark contrast from traffic in Dickson, but accident attorney Rocky McElhaney believes the Dickson County deputy could have caught the duo without endangering the public.

“The officer had a choice,” McElhaney said. “Do I pursue over a cigarette butt and potentially endanger the public or do I let this guy go or run the tag later?”

In 1994, the Supreme Court of Tennessee ruled in Haynes v. Hamilton County that “police may be liable to innocent third parties for choosing to pursue suspects in vehicles and factors relevant to that determination include the speed and area of pursuit.”  The court decision also considers the presence of pedestrians, traffic and alternative methods of apprehension.

CLICK HERE: Haynes v. Hamilton County

“I can’t get over the fact that it started over a cigarette butt,” Heath Hensley said.

FOX 17 has requested the dash cam video and 911 calls made during the chase. The Dickson County Sheriff said he has forwarded all of FOX 17’s requests to their attorney.


Source: fox17
Cigarette Butt Sparks Nearly 120 MPH Chase in Dickson County


Add Comments


You may also like...