Just before 6:30 p.m. last Thursday, Columbus Police Officer Christopher Smith attempted to make a traffic stop with a white Dodge Avenger near the intersection of 13th Street and 3rd Avenue North.
The driver of the vehicle, 21-year-old Tyrone Pratt, declined to stop. Instead, he led Smith on a pursuit down 3rd Avenue North until he reached 5th Street. At 5th Street, Pratt turned north before turning east again on 5th Avenue North. As he gained speed, Pratt took a quick left on 6th Street North and an immediate right onto 6th Avenue North.
As the Avenger turned onto 6th Avenue, Smith saw the driver toss a handful of suspicious items from the car. At the same time, Pratt’s passenger made an attempt to exit the vehicle, but Pratt again sped eastward down 6th Avenue North.
Ignoring stop signs and cross traffic, Pratt continued to lead Smith and a bevy of responding officers along 6th Avenue before turning north on 18th Street and again turning east on 7th Avenue.
Now reaching speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour, Pratt took little notice of the dozens of pedestrians on 7th Avenue North (many of them children). The fleeing driver avoided hitting anyone more by sheer dumb luck than by any discernable driving skill.
After blasting through the intersection of 7th Avenue and Waterworks Road,
Pratt missed another crowd of kids as he turned south on MLK Jr. Drive.
Oncoming officers forced Pratt to give up his flight near the intersection of MLK Jr. Drive and 4th Avenue North. He then stopped the car and exited the vehicle with his hands in the air. He and his passenger were immediately pounced upon by several police officers.
[Several residents of the neighborhood became upset at the way the two males were handled by the officers. None of them seemed too concerned with the fact that Pratt came inches from killing dozens of people along his escape route. It was pure luck that no one was injured or worse. JD]
When asked why he didn’t stop for the blue lights, Pratt kept repeating, “I was just trying to get to the house and you were trying to run me off the road.”
The driver was arrested and charged with driving without a seatbelt, no driver’s license, reckless driving, no insurance, failure to yield to blue lights, possession of marijuana over one ounce (the marijuana was in two bags that Pratt discarded at the intersection of 6th Street and 6th Avenue North) and 22 counts of running a stop sign.
Pratt’s passenger was released without charges.
Pratt also had over $1,000 in cash on his person at the time of his arrest.
The original reason for the traffic stop was Pratt’s lack of using a seatbelt.0