Senior accused of stealing police cruiser, driving off highway bridge goes to court

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CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A senior citizen accused of stealing a police car and driving it off a highway bridge is out of the hospital and jail, for now.

Janet Givens was in a Cheatham County courtroom Wednesday, almost four months after a series of dramatic events at her home in Kingston Springs.

Cheatham County deputies and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation launched an investigation on January 12, 2021, after Givens’ home caught fire.

Kingston Springs officers were the first to arrive and found Givens crying, cold and shivering in the frigid night.

Officers put her in the back of a warm police car as they ran to look in the burning home for other potential victims. That’s when officers say the Kingston Springs Police SUV sped away.

Dashcam shows Givens, now 65, losing control on an icy highway bridge. The vehicle fish tailed, then smashed a guard rail and plunged off the 30-foot bridge.

The car landed engine first in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 40. Miraculously, Givens survived.

Givens spent the next 17 days recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and was booked into Cheatham County Jail officially on February 26. She was charged with stealing a police car and evading.

Because of extenuating circumstances, the court released Givens on her own recognizance.

Lt. Ken Miller says, “She was recovering from the injury, and we are still under the COVID mandate. We didn’t keep her in jail long, we allowed her to bond out on the OR bond. She has roots here. She is probably not going anywhere. That is one of the conditions of a bond, it’s an incentive to show up for court.”

Before allegedly stealing the police car, Police say Givens is seen running from this burning home. She reportedly yelled to arriving officers that her babies were still inside. A thorough investigation of the charred remains showed that nobody else was inside the inferno.

How the blaze began is still very much under investigation. Detectives are awaiting results from the TBI Crime Lab.

“It absolutely is considered suspicious,” said Lt. Miller.

Miller says Givens could also be facing arson charges pending the results of the TBI Crime Lab. Jail officials tell News 2 that Givens is next due in court August 4, 2021.

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