Deputy right to chase a man who fled with children
PRATTVILLE – The Autauga County MP who chased a driver in a high-speed chase that left two young children injured in a shipwreck knew the kids were in the car but had no choice as to whether or not to follow, Sheriff Joe Sedinger said.
Deputy arrested Justin Jefferson, 27, of Valley Grande on Thursday for an alleged speeding violation and discovered Jefferson had outstanding arrest warrants from the Prattville Police Department for traffic violations , Sedinger said. The citations included speeding, attempting to escape, driving with a revoked license and an expired label, according to court records.
“Once we know you have warrants, we can’t let you go anymore,” Sedinger said. “Our deputy told him he should call someone to pick up the children and pick up the car. That’s when he left.”
Jefferson led police in a chase that at times exceeded 115 miles per hour, the sheriff said. Jefferson’s Nissan Maxima cut a pickup truck in Autaugaville, then crashed into two parked cars.
So why sue a vehicle with two young children inside for tickets?
“Why was he running with two young children in the car? Why was he driving down Route 88 with two young children in the car?” Sedinger said of what the member saw on Highway 14 east of Autaugaville. “Our deputy saw him go over a double yellow line and turned and paced him at 88 miles per hour. He stopped, our deputy saw the kids in the car.”
An officer from Prattville was on his way to the stop to arrest Jefferson. The deputy was driving a marked sheriff’s office van. Whether pursuing a chase or backing down is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, Sedinger said, but said the deputy acted correctly in deciding to prosecute.
“At this point we weren’t sure if he was supposed to have the kids or not, we weren’t sure if he had any dope in the car,” Sedinger said. “Why did he run? “
Jefferson was in Autauga Metropolitan Jail Friday afternoon facing two charges of felony assault, attempted escape and citations trafficking from the sheriff’s office, records show. The assault charges relate to injuries sustained by the children, he said.
A review of the files Friday showed Jefferson does not yet have a lawyer.
At the scene immediately after the sinking, Sedinger said there was no way MPs involved in the pursuit could have known children were in the car. The scene was chaotic, with the children being taken to Montgomery Hospital by helicopter.
Sedinger said on Friday that at the time he made the comment, he was unaware of the initial traffic stop.
Jefferson is the father of the 5-year-old boy and the 1-year-old girl who were in the car, Sedinger said. The boy was treated and released from the hospital emergency room and the girl transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital with a broken eye socket. She is expected to need reconstructive facial surgery, he said.
Contact Montgomery Announcer reporter Marty Roney at [email protected].