Chase ends in arrest after Washington County deputy narrowly escapes serious injury

Becky Campbell • Jan 31, 2014 at 4:35 PM

A patch of ice and a Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy’s quick movement likely saved him from serious injury when a motorist sped away from a traffic stop Friday, according to news release from Sheriff Ed Graybeal.

Joe Timothy Hankal, 47, 1741 Old State Route 34, Telford, was charged with aggravated assault on an officer, felony evading arrest, resisting arrest, violation of habitual motor offender restriction, unlawful possession of a firearm, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony.

It all started with a traffic stop when a deputy pulled Hankal over for two traffic violations, including not wearing a seatbelt, in an area where investigators were monitoring traffic due to recent thefts and burglaries, Investigator Lt. Doug Gregg said.

Hankal — a habitual motor offender who has other prior convictions — also attempted to cover his face with his hand as he drove by officers.

Deputy Richard Cox made the traffic stop, Gregg said. When Hankal gave the deputy a false name, Cox questioned him further.

“Hankal put his vehicle in drive and took off. The deputy would have been seriously hurt if not for Hankal’s vehicle spinning on ice prior to gaining traction on the pavement, allowing the deputy to get away from the vehicle,” Gregg said. He said Cox had to jump out of the way to avoid getting hit.

Investigators driving an unmarked vehicle continued to follow Hankal who slowed down to 30mph after speeding away from the deputy’s vehicle.

He drove down McCarty Hollow Road to Highway 11E, where other investigators had stopped traffic in order to deploy spike strips, Gregg said.

Hankal was boxed in prior to reaching the strips and bailed out of his car and ran. Officers chased Hankal down, used a Taser on him and took him to the ground, according to Gregg.

He continued to struggle and was tased a second time. Hankal was able to get his hand on the investigator’s Taser prior to a drive stun being applied. “Following this Taser application Hankal became compliant and was handcuffed,” Gregg said.

In Hankal’s vehicle officers found a loaded .25 automatic handgun. Hankal is a convicted felon, banned from possessing a firearm. A check of Hankal’s driver’s license revealed him to be a habitual motor offender since 2004.

Hankal’s bond was set at $61,000. He’s being held in the Washington County Detention Center and has an arraignment scheduled for Monday.

Cox was examined and treated at the Johnson City Medical Center for a minor injury from the incident.

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