Sheriff lends support of stiffer penalties involving police pursuits in Mo.

Joplin News First

Most police pursuits are misdemeanors unless someone is injured, the new bill would make all pursuits a felony

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — Missouri state lawmakers heard testimony Monday on a bill that would make all police chases felonies.

Right now a majority end up being classified as misdemeanors and usually don’t lead to additional penalties on top of the charges the suspect is running from.

Quasheena Cadenhead was charged Monday in Cass County for leading deputies on a chase at speeds that topped 100 mph while going the wrong way down Interstate 49. A deputy who brought the chase to an end as she exited on an entrance ramp was injured.

Sheriff Jeff Weber said if it weren’t for the deputy’s injuries, Cadenhead may have only faced a misdemeanor in the wild chase.

Jacob Davis of Joplin led Joplin Police on a 100 mph pursuit early Sunday morning.  It ended west of Neosho on Hwy 86.  As the pursuit progressed he struck a Duquesne Police officer.  The officer was not injured.  Davis suffered injuries as he rolled the Chevy Trailblazer he was operating. Click here for that exclusive story from the weekend.

He faces charges in the city of Joplin and also in Newton County.  He is currently in the Newton County jail after being released from the hospital.

Click here for the initial Missouri State Highway Patrol crash report. Trooper B.L. Crockett states, “[DAVIS] WAS FLEEING FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT, [DAVIS] RAN OFF THE ROADWAY, STRUCK A CULVERT AND OVERTURNED.

HOUSE BILL 1620

A Missouri legislator introduced House Bill 619 last year to strengthen penalties for running from the law, but it never picked up traction.

On Monday, one day after one of his deputies was injured in a high-speed pursuit, Weber testified in favor of this year’s version, House Bill 1620.

“It’s been our experience that individuals who run once, run twice, three, four times. They do it all the time, and we’ve trained them to do that,” he said.

Weber wants the line in Missouri statue that says it’s a misdemeanor “unless the person fleeing creates a substantial risk of serious injury or death” eliminated and replaced with a Class E felony.

“We are just gambling. We are letting them out on a signature bond to continue to do these things until someone finally gets hurt,” Weber said.

And according to Weber, suspects aren’t the getting the message. He said chases in the county have become almost a daily occurrence.

A deputy injured in a chase in September (see cover image) only returned to duty Friday. There’s no telling when the deputy who stopped Sunday’s wrong-way, speeding suspect will be back to work.

Kansas law is similar to Missouri’s right now, though it makes a third arrest for fleeing and eluding an automatic felony.

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