EDITOR'S NOTE: It’s not every day that one gets a deeper look into a high speed police pursuit. Just a few days ago on Friday, a Tupelo man led authorities on such a chase, though much of the news that day came from Ecru where a raging fire at American Furniture demanded attention. Nevertheless, WTVA’s Mike Russell spent much of Tuesday afternoon with Verona Police Chief J.B. Long, and filed this report.
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - As is the case with most high-speed chases, this one did not last very long. The entire pursuit lasted less than 10 minutes. At one point, the man trying to evade police blasted through this intersection near Thomas Street Elementary at 97 miles an hour. But let’s go back to the beginning.
It all started at a routine checkpoint in Verona on West Street just off Palmetto Rd. As 22 year old Jamiraquin Martin of Tupelo, approaches the checkpoint from the north, he ducks into a driveway and speeds off into the opposite direction. Verona Police Chief takes it from there.
"Apparently he was trying to get away from the police," said Long. "So I immediately jumped into my vehicle, went to pursue and see if I could get him stopped."
A few hundred yards down West Street, Martin loses control and does a couple of donuts in the yard of a home there. It appears he may try to ram Chief Long.
Mike Russell: "Chief, at this point you don't really know anything about the guy,right? You just know you've got somebody running away from you, right?
Verona Police Chief J. B. Long: "That's all I knew. I knew I had a guy in the car trying to get away from the police."
A little further down, West becomes Southern Heights Rd. Martin blows through a stop sign at Green Tee Road at 70 miles an hour. At each intersection, Chief Long is advising dispatch, worried about a possible collision.
"I would tell 911 he might crash because there are cars on both sides," says Long.
At Evelyn Street, Martin blows another stop sign -- and he's going so fast, he goes airborn over the hill. Then at Mitchell, he blows yet another one, then speeds west. At South Thomas Street, the traffic is picking up - and so is the risk of a crash. At Cliff Gookin, that risk becomes enormous.
Mike Russell: "So east and west traffic has the green....north and south is stopped, he goes in the wrong lane and blows this intersection without even touching his brakes, right?"
Verona Police Chief J. B. Long: "He never touched his brakes...."
Thomas Street is a long straight stretch of road -- and Martin is picking up speed. As he approaches the intersection of Bryan and Thomas close to Thomas Street Elementary, Tupelo Police officers are waiting. It's about 1:30 and some parents are early for the 3:05 school dismissal. Martin is traveling nearly a hundred miles an hour.
"I'm hoping nobody crosses this street," says Long. "No children or anything because the guy's not going to stop, so I'm just thinking disaster."
The end is near, though. Just down the road, Martin crashes into a curb, jumps out of his car and runs into the Spanish Village Court Complex. Tupelo Police approach on one side, and Chief Long from the other. Martin eventually runs out of the complex, right into the waiting handcuffs of police officers. They find out there's a warrant for his arrest in Missouri. In the meantime, Martin is booked into the Lee County Jail on Felony Fleeing and Possession of a Controlled Substance.
"Everything's about safety," says Long. "And that's why I kept letting 911 know where we were going, the direction we were going, and hoping that anybody would show up just to help get this guy stopped."
The good news? Police caught the bad guy and nobody was hurt. Chief Long says that was his biggest priority from start to finish.