Officer hurt during crash; man arrested after lengthy chase

The Huntsville Police Department vehicle driven by Blake Evans.

A Huntsville Police Department officer was injured during a high-speed chase through three counties Friday that led to the arrest of a 64-year-old homeless man.

According to a probable cause report from Cpl. Jonathon Cornelison with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, Gregory Alan Smith was arrested in Carroll County after a chase in Madison, Carroll and Newton counties.

Smith faces felony charges of fleeing in vehicle, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a Schedule I or II controlled substance methamphetamine, introducing a controlled substance into the Madison County Jail and second-degree battery.

He faces misdemeanor charges of running a stop sign, failure to signal, passing on a double yellow line, driving on a suspended driver’s license, no proof of insurance, expired vehicle license, speeding 45 miles per hour over posted limit, driving left of center and resisting arrest.

Huntsville officer Blake Evans wrecked his patrol car in Newton County during the pursuit, the probable cause said.

The report said Evans went to Northwest Medical Center in Springdale where he reportedly had torn ligaments in a thumb and burns from the car’s airbag.

Police Chief Todd Thomas said on Monday that Evans was “still a little banged up but good. Car is most likely totaled.”

Sgt. Michael Sloan with the MCSO  was in the Japton area about 9:20 p.m. Friday when he saw a red Chevrolet Camero “that was traveling 72 mph in a 55 mph zone,” the report said.

Evans, MCSO deputy Lynn Whittle and Cornelison responded to the area of Highway 74 and Airport Road. “The vehicle immediately took off at a high rate of speed and was obviously traveling over the posted speed limit of 45 mph.”

Cornelison said Smith turned onto Madison 6553, then Madison 6555. The report said “Smith stopped his vehicle in the road and then spun his tires slinging gravel towards my patrol vehicle and took off driving at a high rate of speed.”

Smith turned onto Madison 6060, then turned onto Highway 23 then onto Highway 74. Cornelison said Smith passed two vehicles at the stop sign at the Kingston Square on Highway 74.

The chase went on Madison 2645 and then onto a Newton County Road and then onto Carroll County 943.

Evans wrecked his vehicle in Newton County and when Cornelison “came upon Officer Evans accident, I slowed down and observed him lying on the ground. Officer Evans appeared to be injured but waved me on, wanting me to continue pursuing the suspect,” the report said.

Smith wrecked his vehicle into an embankment near Carroll 943 and 987.

“When I caught up to Smith vehicle, I noticed that the vehicle had significant damage. Smith was traveling at a much slower speed due to the damage.”

Cornelison tried to stop Smith’s car by using the front push bumper on the patrol car, but to no avail. Cornelison’s vehicle then collided with an Arkansas State Police vehicle. Both continued to pursue Smith’s vehicle. The trooper was able to “pit [pursuit intervention technique] Smith’s vehicle causing it to slide sideways on Highway 412 coming to a stop.”

Smith was removed from the vehicle at gunpoint and placed on the ground. Because Smith “had his right arm/hand under his body, and I didn’t know if he had any weapons on his person, I instructed Smith several times to put his hands behind his back, but he was noncompliant.” Cornelison said he “began to strike Smith with a closed fist about his arms to force compliance,” which he eventually did.

Smith told officers he had drugs. The report said Smith’s vehicle caught fire but a fire department was able to extinguish it.

Whittle found two glass pipes in the car, the report said. Smith was taken to the Madison County Jail where a bag containing about 1.8 grams of a controlled substance was found.

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