ELIZABETHTON — All of the Carter County charges against Travis Grover Richardson, including two counts of attempted second-degree murder of police officers, stemming from an Aug. 2 police chase through the Carter, Unicoi and Washington counties, have now been bound over to a Carter County grand jury following a preliminary hearing in Sessions Court on Wednesday afternoon.
Judge John Walton heard testimony from Elizabethton Police officers Matt Taylor and Eric Buck, who were the first to confront Richardson at the IGA supermarket on U.S. Highway 19E and neighboring residence. Walton also heard testimony from Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Brad Proffitt, who investigated a crash scene in which Richardson, 29, 1180 Dry Creek Road, allegedly ran a Jeep Cherokee into a Carter County Sheriff’s Department cruiser driven by Lt. Penny Cornett.
Mark Hill was the prosecutor in the hearing and attorney Misty Buck was the defense attorney. Buck was appointed by the court after Richardson fired the public defender who had previously represented him. Richardson did not speak during Wednesday’s proceedings.
Taylor testified that he was the first officer to arrive on the scene of a call about the passing of counterfeit money at the IGA.
When he arrived, he said he found Richardson at one of the check-out registers and stood behind him out of sight to observe the transaction. He then said he then told Richardson “I need to speak with you for a minute.”
Taylor said he saw Richardson make a movement that appeared to be a preparation to either run or fight. At that time, two store managers attempted to subdue Richardson.
As Richardson resisted, Taylor said he attempted to fire a Taser at him, but only one prong hit him.
He said Richardson fled out the front door heading west toward Big Lots. Taylor pursued him on foot. When they reached a trash bin and storage area, he said Richardson displayed a knife and began waving it from side to side.
Taylor said he began to backpedal when he saw the knife. He said Richardson continued approaching until they got within a few feet of each other. As Taylor drew for his gun, Richardson ran away again, heading for State Line Road.
When they reached State Line, Taylor said they approached a resident standing in his driveway. Taylor said the man appeared to want to help Taylor in catching Richardson, but Taylor warned the resident Richardson had a knife.
Officer Buck was the second officer on the scene and he said saw Taylor and Richardson at the State Line residence. Buck said he pulled into the driveway in his cruiser at the time Richardson got into a Jeep Cherokee.
Buck said he saw the knife in the driver’s hand and said the driver fully accelerated the Jeep in reverse, ramming into the front end of the cruiser, disabling it.
Buck said the Jeep broke free from his cruiser and continued backing out of the driveway, forcing Taylor to jump into a drainage ditch. Taylor testified that he felt “my life was in jeopardy.”
Hill had Proffitt to testify instead of Cornett because Proffitt was the charging officer on the arrest warrants in the events that took place on Sciota Road near the Unicoi County line.
Proffitt said he watched the videotape from Cornett’s cruiser made during the pursuit.
“I observed a car pursuing a Jeep Cherokee on Sciota Road,” Proffitt said. He said the cruiser had its emergency lights and siren going.
He said the video showed the Jeep come to a stop and go into reverse, backing into the cruiser.
Walton said that based on the testimony presented the case was being bound over to a grand jury on two counts of attempted second-degree murder, and one count each of aggravated assault, vandalism, hit and run and having no proof of insurance.
Richardson was also bound over on 26 counts of criminal simulation and two counts of worthless checks.
Richardson also face charges in Unicoi County from the same pursuit. He is accused of ramming into the cruiser of Unicoi County Sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Copp.
The pursuit finally came to an end on South Roan Street in Johnson City near the Tipton-Haynes State Historic Area, where the Jeep, with flat tires from police stop strips, finally went out of control and crashed.