What a night: Cruiser, truck damaged in bizarre night for deputies
By By Robbie Byrd, News Editor
Two cars. One night. Lots of damage.
So says Escambia County Sheriff Timothy Hawsey.
After an exciting night wound down last Thursday, the Escambia County Sheriff's Department found itself with a beat-up Tahoe and a busted patrol car window.
In the first incident of Sept. 12, a fleeing motorist rammed a Sheriff's vehicle three times and led police on a short chase down I-65.
The man has been charged with attempted murder and is being held in the Escambia County Detention Center.
Jarod Leachman, agent with the 21st Judicial Drug Task Force, was working a special drug detail along I-65 when he spotted a black vehicle speeding.
At 6:58 p.m., Leachman stopped the Black Mazda RX7 at the 69-mile-marker.
What Leachman thought would be an uneventful traffic stop soon turned into a police nightmare.
The driver of the Mazda, Donald Wayne Ashby, 46, exited the vehicle after he was pulled over and began cursing at Leachman.
The man returned to his car and sped from the scene. Leachman followed closely in hot pursuit.
A few miles away, Sgt. Ben Roe was assisting a stranded motorist along I-65 when he heard the call over his radio.
Roe pulled across the median into the northbound lane at the 71-mile-marker and waited.
Roe's marked Chevrolet Tahoe, with emergency lights running, sat in the road, awaiting Ashby.
Ashby then did the unthinkable: he rammed the Tahoe in the rear, backed up, rammed the Tahoe a second time, crossed over the median and continued north on I-65.
Roe's vehicle was still operational, so he pulled in front of Ashby who rammed him again. The Mazda skidded across the median into the southbound lane and the driver exited the vehicle running into a woody area along I-65.
Sgt. Roe, Canine Deputy for the ECSO, deployed his German Shepherd partner, Zar, who took pursuit.
"(He) picked the wrong vehicle to ram and then run into the woods from," Hawsey said.
Zar caught Ashby only twenty yards from where the Mazda had stopped.
A search of Ashby's vehicle revealed no illegal drugs, only some beer and a few empty prescription bottles.
Hawsey said that Ashby had been drinking, but a Breathalyzer test revealed he was not intoxicated.
Ashby was transported to D.W. McMillan Hospital in Brewton. After it was determined he had no serious injuries, Ashby was transported to Escambia County Detention Center.
He is held there on $54,000 bond on charges of attempted murder, speeding, attempting to elude, reckless driving and driving with a revoked license.
A background check revealed Ashby had an extensive history of driving violations. His Tennessee state license had been revoked and he had no insurance, Hawsey's office said.
Officers on scene said Ashby had left Louisiana and was in a hurry to see his son "graduate from the Army" in Georgia.
Ashby remains in the Escambia County Detention Center.
In a separate incident, a man being transported in a police cruiser busted the rear window, jumped out of the vehicle and led deputies on a circle chase through a field.
Deputies responded to a call at 10:40 p.m. on Airport Road. A mother there said her son, Jack Stallworth, 43, of 1500 Old Bratt Road, was going crazy and she needed help.
Officers with the Atmore Police Department first arrived on scene and discovered Stallworth had assaulted his wife and had forced his mother to give him an undisclosed amount of cash.
APD officers felt Stallworth should be detained in the interest of everyone's safety until the Sheriff's Deputy on call, who was transporting an inmate to the Escambia County Detention Center, could arrive on scene.
Stallworth, who had been drinking, resisted officers as they took him into custody and placed him in the Atmore City Jail.
While in transport to the Escambia County Detention Center, the deputy told ECSO officials Stallworth began kicking the rear passenger window in the car.
He eventually broke the glass, jumped out of the vehicle and ran into a high cotton field, Hawsey's office said.
Prison dogs from Fountain Correctional Center were called to the scene and found the man making circles in the field.
He was again taken into custody.
He remains in the Escambia County Detention Center on charges of robbery (third), domestic violence (third), resisting arrest, escape (third) and criminal mischief (first) on a $125,000 bond.