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You Can Run…But You Can't Swim!

William Boyd gasps for air after being pulled out of the Tombigbee

A Columbus man jumped nearly 100 feet into the river yesterday afternoon in an attempt to escape from police.

William Craddock Boyd  jumped into the Tombigbee River just before 5 p.m. Wednesday after attacking and then running from Columbus Police Officer Stephen Kemp.

Officer Kemp responded to an E-911 call at 620 Second Street South for a “large disturbance” and discovered William Boyd and Ashley Boyd arguing in the front seat of her black 1995 Honda Accord.

When Kemp approached the vehicle, he noticed a bulge in William Boyd’s pocket and instructed him to show his hands and step out of the car.

William Boyd then got out of the vehicle and Officer Kemp placed him against the car and began to pat him down for weapons. He noticed a knife clipped to William Boyd’s back pocket and asked him if he had any other weapons. William Boyd quickly turned to face the officer, his hands raised in the air and fists clenched. While the two were struggling, William Boyd threw a clear plastic bag filled with what appeared to be cocaine back in the direction of the car.
Ashley Boyd then began screaming at Kemp, yelling at him to “Stop” and “Leave him alone!” When Officer Kemp overpowered the man and had him on the ground, Ashley Boyd then jumped on Kemp, attacking him, with her dog biting the officer as well.

When Officer Kemp pushed Ashley Boyd off of him she allegedly grabbed the bag and her dog, jumped in the car and fled the scene.

William Boyd ran from the home and jumped the chain-link fence in his back yard and a white picket fence in his neighbor’s yard, running down Sixth Avenue toward First Street with Officer Kemp chasing him and radioing for backup. Kemp then tazed William Boyd in an effort to get him to stop. William Boyd did stop, but instead of obeying the officer’s command to not move, he reached towards his back pocket and grabbed the knife, pointing it at Officer Kemp. Kemp then brandished his service weapon, yelling at William Boyd to drop the knife. Instead, he ran from the officer again and jumped another fence next to First Street before tumbling down the hill towards the river. Kemp ran down the hill, where he and William Boyd had a brief standoff on a pier with Kemp telling him “don’t do it, don’t do it” before William Boyd jumped in the water.

Kemp radioed in “He’s in the river! He’s in the river! He’s swimming across!” and both Columbus police officers and Lowndes County deputies swarmed to the island.
Once on Island Rd., CPD Officers Lance Luckey and William Thrasher drove about a mile down the road and turned left onto the Phillips’ property. (The property is owned by Billy Phillips and is known for the numerous pecan trees. Phillips’ daughter and son-in-law, Mary Margaret and Steve Swedenburg, live on the property as well. SF)
Officer Kemp stayed at his position at the bottom of the hill and was constantly radioing William Boyd’s location. Officers Luckey and Thrasher ran to the bottom of the boat ramp on the Phillips property and spotted Boyd struggling in the river.

John Henry Fields, Will Swedenburg, Taylor Fields, Miller Pucket and Wesley Swedenburg

Six boys had been at the Swedenburg home hitting golf balls into the river when the officers raced down the driveway. One of the boys, Taylor Fields, said he first thought the lights and sirens were for them. “I thought they were coming for us since we were hitting golf balls in the river,” he said. Once the young men realized the officers needed help in reaching William Boyd, they offered the use of their boat. Owned by Will Swedenburg, the young men got in the boat with Officers Luckey and Thrasher and drove them out into the river towards the struggling swimmer. The group of youngsters seemed happy to be involved with the capture, with Fields excitedly saying “They pointed their guns and yelled at him!”

William Boyd with CPD officers Lance Luckey and William Thrasher moments after Boyd was pulled from the river

Once William Boyd was in the boat, the officers detained him and radioed for an ambulance before driving to shore.
Luckey and Thrasher had to carry a soaking wet William Boyd up the hill, with the runner-turned-swimmer gasping for air. Once the three were at the top of the hill, William Boyd collapsed onto the ground, complaining, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe out of my nose, man!” He then began dry heaving and repeatedly tried to vomit. When EMTs arrived on scene to check him for injuries, William Boyd complained of his back hurting. The emergency responders pulled up the back of William Boyd’s shirt and discovered a TAZER prong lodged in the right side of his back. When they attempted to remove it, he began to cry and screamed out in pain, begging them, “Please stop, I’m begging you to stop.” The EMTs could not remove the prong and retrieved the stretcher to transport William Boyd to the hospital. While sitting on the ground, William Boyd asked a firefighter, “Could you help me up, man?” before he was loaded onto the stretcher. Once he was laid on the stretcher on his side, William Boyd again complained of the TAZER prong, asking EMTs to adjust the strap because it was rubbing the still-attached prong. He then started dry heaving again before being placed in the ambulance. Once in the ambulance, William Boyd began having a panic attack.

He was transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital Golden-Triangle, where he was treated and released into police custody. He was then taken to Lowndes County Adult Detention Center where he was charged with possession of cocaine and aggravated assault on a police officer. While William Boydwas fighting with Officer Kemp in the back yard of the Sixth Avenue home, Kemp suffered a hit to the neck, to the right eye and to the left arm.

A Be On the Look Out For, or “BOLO”, was issued for the black Honda Accord and Ashley Boyd was located shortly after at her apartment on Fifth Street. She was charged with felony simple assault on a police officer.



  1. Faye55

    Good job officers! Columbus is lucky to have such good officers and citizens. This what it takes to clean the streets. Good cops working with the public!

  2. JohnnyPhillipMorris


    Dispatch reporting “hung jury” in McElhenney/Alan Boterf case.

    Get the “scoop” on Boterf in the Ronnie Mitchener kidnap case.

    There’s something rotten at the Lowndes Court House.

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