While working an accident at Highway 53 West near Hill City Road involving a motorcycle, Deputy Tony Heath got more than he bargained for.
On August 24 at nearly 2 a.m. Heath was standing near the front of his patrol car talking with the motorcyclist when he saw a silver Pontiac Bonneville make a reckless u-turn while accelerating, almost striking his cruiser and Heath before regaining control. Heath pursued the Bonneville which was now driving eastbound on Highway 53. As they approached Whippoorwill Lane the Bonneville was observed to be driving eastbound in the westbound lane in excess of 100 m.p.h.
Heath continued to follow the car into the city of Jasper where he made several traffic infractions including driving in the center lane and disregarding traffic lights. Due to the erratic behavior of the driver, Heath’s commanding officer gave the go ahead for a PIT maneuver. A PIT (Precision Immobilization Technique) is a move requiring specialized training in which a vehicle can be struck at a particular place to cause it to turn, thus possibly causing a car to come to a stop. As he attempted the maneuver an accident resulted damaging both cars and a pole at the intersection of East Church Street and Old Tate Road in Jasper.
The suspect, identified as Brian Harris of Canton, ran from the scene onto nearby railroad tracks. He was tased three times with minimal effect. Seeing an opportunity, Heath wrestled Harris to the ground where Harris was able to grasp the taser that had been thrown to the side. At that point, Harris attempted to use the taser on the deputy but Heath was able to dislodge the weapon as two other officers made the scene to assist.
After being arrested, a search revealed marijuana, a syringe and a tourniquet. It was discovered the vehicle was stolen and Harris’ license was suspended. As a result, Harris racked up charges of aggravated assault, speeding, fleeing/attempting to elude, improper u-turn, possession of marijuana, driving while license suspended, felony obstruction of officer, reckless driving, theft by receiving stolen property, D.U.I-Drugs, and traffic infractions.