As Press staff writer Becky Campbell reported last month, there’s a move afoot to stiffen the penalties for those convicted of injuring someone while evading arrest. The effort is in response to an incident that occurred in January 2012 that left a Washington County sheriff’s deputy seriously injured.
Gary Daugherty later testified in court that he thought he was going to die after being struck by a car driven by a fleeing robbery suspect. Daughtery was trying to deploy a spike strip when he was hit by the vehicle. The impact was so great it launched him high into the air. He suffered a cracked pelvis, shattered elbow, broken arm and wrist and a knee injury.
The deputy’s recovery has taken more than a year and has included four surgeries and intensive physical therapy.
The driver and his two accomplices in the car with him at the time of the incident were convicted of reckless endangerment with substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death for hitting Daugherty. As Campbell noted in her story last month, the jury rejected the premeditation theory, as well as the next lesser charge, attempted second-degree murder, and convicted the three of the only other choice — reckless endangerment.
Jurors were limited by a Tennessee Supreme Court decision regarding such cases.
First Judicial District Attorney General Tony Clark believes if someone evades arrest by fleeing from law enforcement officers, and by doing so they injure someone in the process, their punishment should be tougher than that for writing a bad $30 check. We agree and we hope the state General Assembly will agree, too.
Clark is calling for legislators to pass the Gary Daugherty Law — a provision in the statue for evading arrest that says a suspect who injures a law enforcement officer or innocent bystander should face a Class B or C felony.
Passage of this law will not help make up for Daugherty’s pain and suffering, but it will make sure others who hurt someone while running from the law get more than a slap on the wrist.