HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A dangerous trend in Hendersonville is putting bystanders at risk. Police say more suspects are fleeing from officers like never before.
“It was extremely, extremely rare that we would attempt a traffic stop, and the vehicle would run from us, and now we are seeing times where a shift of our officers go out there and during one shift, we may have three vehicles run from us,” explained Sgt. Neal Harris, with the Hendersonville Police Department.
It’s a trend that’s happening at an alarming rate. When police turn on their sirens and lights, the vehicle in front of them is supposed to pull over safely. However, what happens when the driver decides to speed off instead?
“A police officer gets behind someone and turns on their sirens and lights, that person has a choice. Do I hit the brake and pull over, or do I hit the gas and keep going? We found that an increasing number of times, people are choosing to hit the gas,” said Sgt. Harris.
Watching dash camera video from police, Sgt. Harris showed one example of how dangerous these crimes can be. In one video, you can hear police initially turn on their lights and siren in an attempt to pull over a black and green Chevy Cavalier. The standard traffic stop then turned into a high-speed chase.
Sgt. Harris says oftentimes, these drivers are betting police will not continue to follow them and give up on the pursuit. He explained it can be a difficult job for officers, who are trying to weigh the risk of speeding up and pursuing the fleeing vehicle. Sgt, Harris said if the initial traffic stop is because of speeding, or not wearing a seatbelt, police may choose the safety of others on the road, rather than following a chaotic driver.
He says the increase comes from more people moving into the city, which causes more traffic. While these drivers assume police won’t follow them, sometimes the situation can become deadly.
“Police have been engaged in pursuit and the pursuit led to a traffic accident, which led to loss of life, and that’s the one thing we don’t ever want to happen,” said Sgt. Harris.
In another video, police attempted to pull over a Silver Nissan Altima on August 23, 2021. The driver, who police have identified as 20-year-old Fernando Garcia-Magana, sped away, driving through traffic on the interstate. Police are now hoping to arrest him.
Sgt. Harris warns drivers who may attempt to evade police. He says the department has a dedicated division to hunting down those who flee and will “aggressively” pursue the maximum penalty against them. Drivers who fail to stop when an officer turns on their lights and sirens can face felony evading charges.
Police ask that anyone with information on either of these cases please call and report that information to the Hendersonville Police Criminal Investigation Division at (615) 264-5303 or the Hendersonville Crime Stoppers at (615) 594-4113. Tips may also be submitted using the P3 Tips Mobile Application.