Spencer Bristol Act: New law in effect, increased penalty for evading arrest

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HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Thursday, the Spencer Bristol Act took into effect, named after the Hendersonville police officer who died in the line of duty.

DECEMBER 30, 2019

It’s been two years, and the day is still burned into the mind of Dan Bristol.

“For us, time, time stopped on that day, that’s something that you just never get over. You kind of expect to lose a parent, you expect to possibly lose a sibling, but a parent never expects to lose their child before they pass,” said Mr. Bristol.

Officer Spencer Bristol pictured with his daughter.

Back in 2019, just five days after Christmas, his son, Master Patrol Officer Spencer Bristol, was on duty when he was hit and killed by a vehicle during a pursuit on I-65 South near Goodlettsville.

The four-year veteran with the Hendersonville Police Department, was chasing a suspect vehicle in Hendersonville, when the suspect vehicle struck another vehicle on Vietnam Veterans Boulevard. Investigators said the driver of the car, identified as 19-year-old Kevin Jordan, was immediately arrested.

Troopers with the Tennessee High Patrol said a passenger fled the car and ran across the interstate. Officer Bristol reportedly chased after the passenger on foot and was struck by an oncoming car.

“If it hadn’t have been for our faith, I don’t think we would have made it through this,” explained Mr. Bristol. Honoring his son’s legacy, Dan became a member of the Hendersonville Police Reserve, serving the community he has grown to love through this tragedy. He said it was a goal of his that he had often spoken to his son about.

“His name associated with something that could save lives, I think he would be very humbled and very proud,” said Dan Bristol.

Officer Spencer Bristol was transported to TriStar Skyline Medical Center where he passed away, later that evening.

THE SPENCER BRISTOL ACT

House Bill 1805, better known as The Spencer Bristol Act, sponsored by Senator Ferrell Haile, increases the penalty for evading arrest that results in the serious bodily harm of a law enforcement officer, taking effect on July 1, 2021.

Dan Bristol pictured with his family, and House Majority Leader, Representative William Lamberth, who introduced House Bill 1805.

“I can guarantee you Spencer Bristol’s family hope, his wife and little girl, would hope and pray that folks would choose not to run,” said House Majority Leader, Representative William Lamberth, who introduced the bill, “they absolutely cause an officer’s death, knowing that that officer is behind them, is pursuing them, and they simply chose not to stop.”

The legislation means the possible sentence for criminals goes from a maximum of 12 years to a maximum of 60 years in prison.

His son’s death gave birth to this change in law, and now Dan Bristol said, he is hopeful the House Bill 1805, will deter others from committing the crime.

“This law might discourage someone from fleeing the police which could have caused someone else’s death, and in this case, hopefully, people think twice before they run from the police,” said Mr. Bristol.

The bill makes the crime a Class C Felony if the officer is injured and a Class A Felony if the officer dies.

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