After a St. Clair man allegedly challenged Maries County deputies to a race on Sunday, a chase at speeds in excess of 90 mph ensued before he was apprehended and jailed.
Sheriff Chris Heitman told The Missourian on Monday that David L. Williams, 31, of St. Clair, continues to be held in the Maries County Jail. Maries County is located southwest of Gasconade County. Bond has been set at $250,000.
Heitman said on Monday that the Maries County prosecutor charged Williams with second-degree felony assault on a law enforcement officer as well as felony resisting arrest. The sheriff told The Missourian that the assault charge stems from Williams “recklessly placing a law enforcement officer in apprehension of immediate serious injury by driving a motor vehicle toward the officer’s vehicle at a high rate of speed.”
Heitman said numerous traffic violations and other charges are expected to be filed at a later date, including one from Pulaski County for stealing a motor vehicle.
The sheriff said while Williams has been incarcerated at the Maries County Jail, he attempted to assault a sheriff’s deputy by striking him with his fist.
“The sheriff’s deputy was forced to use pepper spray on Williams,” Heitman said. “Additional charges are going to be requested with the Maries County prosecutor for this attempted assault as well.”
Heitman said in a press release that during the early morning hours on Sunday, Williams pulled the vehicle he was driving up to Maries County deputies who were assisting a stranded motorist on Highway 63 outside of Vichy. After asking the officers if they wanted to race, Williams accelerated away at a high rate of speed.
Sheriff’s deputies activated their emergency equipment, and pursued the Mercury Cougar, which matched an earlier report of a vehicle recently stolen in the nearby town of Crocker.
The sheriff’s deputies pursued the vehicle at a high rate of speed, Heitman said, and traveled in excess of 90 miles per hour into the city limits of Vienna. The sheriff said Vienna police set up one of its vehicles on the side of the road in an attempt to help, and when the suspect vehicle approached, the police officer was forced to fire two rounds of ammunition into its engine.
Heitman said the high-speed pursuit continued through the city limits until law enforcement was able to block Williams. Deputies were forced to hit the vehicle using their push bumper to finally get Williams to come to a complete stop.
As deputies approached the vehicle, Williams continued to resist arrested, and he refused to exit the car or open the door. Officers were forced to break a window of the vehicle to remove him.
The sheriff said Williams appeared to be impaired and possibly under the influence of an illegal controlled substance while at the scene.
Heitman said that Williams has 10 prior felony arrests and several convictions.
“In fact, on June 5, 2012, Williams was placed on probation for tampering with a motor vehicle, and he is currently out on probation,” the sheriff said. “Furthermore, Williams has a felony conviction for stealing a motor vehicle, and he was just released from prison in 2010 for that violation.”
A check revealed that Williams does have several prior felony and misdemeanor arrests and convictions, including two from earlier this year in Franklin County for tampering with a motor vehicle and theft of property valued at less than $500.
While processing the vehicle deputies located suspected stolen property as well, Heitman said.
“I must say this is one of the most unusual cases I have ever been involved in,” Heitman said. “It was as if the driver of the vehicle was deliberately taunting the sheriff’s deputies and breaking the law in front of them for them to give chase. I have never had someone in a stolen car pull up to sheriff’s deputies and ask them if they wanted to race and then take off.
“I am thankful no one was hurt in this very dangerous and lengthy high-speed pursuit,” the sheriff said. “I appreciate the assistance of the Vienna Police Department to help us safely take this dangerous felon off the roadway. Law enforcement officers never like to discharge their weapons in the line of duty, but sometimes it is necessary to protect our lives and the lives of innocent civilians on the roadway.”