NWGA Scanner | January 25th, 2022

Chattanooga pair arrested after trooper uses PIT to end pursuit with stolen vehicle in Catoosa County

According to a Georgia State Patrol incident report, on January 11th, 2022, at approximately 4:38 PM, Trooper Walthour was I-75 northbound at exit 350 in Catoosa County waiting for a stolen Ford Fusion confirmed stolen out of Cleveland, TN to pass his location. MCCD Officer Sturdivan observed the stolen vehicle pass his location at exit 348 and advised Trooper Walthour. Trooper Walthour reported, “[I] activated my emergency equipment and attempted to catch up to the stolen vehicle. [I] got behind the vehicle in the right lane of I-75 northbound at MM 352. The driver (Shaun Phillip Cranfield, 42, of Chattanooga) of the stolen vehicle then abruptly changed to the left lane and accelerated. MCCD Officer Sturdivan was directly behind me and notified the communications center [I] was in pursuit. MCCD Officer Sturdivan informed the communications center that he would be handling all radio traffic. [I] noticed two occupants in the vehicle. The violator began driving aggressively, passing cars in the left emergency lane. Knowing that the vehicle was stolen and based on his reckless driving behaviors, [I] decided to terminate the pursuit as soon as possible to keep the driver from endangering the public and all involved. Once [I] had a clear break in traffic, [I] matched the vehicle’s speed on the right rear and performed a PIT maneuver—the violator “fish-tailed” several times across all lanes of I-75. The suspect attempted to regain control of the vehicle to avoid apprehension. [I] then performed another low-speed PIT maneuver on the right rear, rotating the offending vehicle with my push bumper to the right. The driver began accelerating again as MCCD Officer Sturdivan approached the front of the violator to pin him in. Cranfield then struck MCCD Officer Sturdivan in the front left of his patrol vehicle with the front of the stolen vehicle.” According to the report, Cranfield then quickly jumped out of the car, crossing the center median and darting into oncoming traffic on I-75 southbound. Trooper Walthour reported, “[I] drew my state-issued Taser and ordered the violator to stop multiple times. I also stated to him that he would be tased if he did not stop running. [I] pursued the violator on foot several hundred yards through traffic and eventually made it to the west shoulder of I-75. He then began reaching for his waistband. Not knowing what the suspect was reaching for and knowing that the vehicle was stolen, [I] decided to deploy my Taser.” Cranfield was then taken into custody without incident. According to the report, The female passenger, later identified as Erika Jeannie Bell, 30, of Chattanooga, TN, from the vehicle and across the southbound lanes of Interstate 75. According to the report, Catoosa County Deputies later located her in a restroom at a nearby park. She then fled on foot from the deputies and ran into the middle of I-75 southbound while raising her arms as if she was asking to get run over. She was then taken into custody by Catoosa County. According to the report, She stated to deputies and MCCD officer that she and the driver had been smoking meth and drinking alcoholic beverages. Cranfield was found to have felony warrants out of Walker County, Georgia. Both occupants were booked into the Catoosa County Jail. Cranfield was charged with no passing zones, driving on divided highways; transit bus use of the emergency lane, the crossing of guard lines with weapons, intoxicants, or drugs possession of a schedule II controlled substance with intent to distribute, felony theft of property-brought into the state, felony fleeing or attempting to elude police officer, driving while license suspended or revoked, operating motor vehicle without registration or valid license plate, pedestrians right of way in cross walks, pedestrian must obey traffic control devices or officers, license to be carried and exhibited on demand, reckless driving, turning movements, and required signals, and wanted by other agency. Bell was charged with felony theft of property brought into the state, possession of drug-related objects, obstruction, and pedestrians’ right of way in crosswalks. Trooper Walthour reported, the pursuit was only able to last 35 seconds due to him using a PIT maneuver and ending the pursuit safely.