Police officer sent to hospital after high-speed chase

A Barbourville police officer was taken to the hospital Saturday after his cruiser was hit head-on by a suspect fleeing police.

Walmart officials say Jennifer Wheat, 30, of Barbourville, got away after allegedly trying to shoplift two car batteries. When the woman was taken into the back of Walmart, store officials say she shoved a store manager in her attempt to leave.

Police located Wheat’s vehicle, a 1998 Dodge Durango, and attempted to conduct a traffic stop. Wheat refused to stop and took off, leading the police on a high-speed chase down US 25E exceeding speeds of 100 mph. When the pursuit reached Turkey Creek, officers say she hit police cruisers driven by Officers Josh Lawson and Matt Hammons, hitting Officer Lawson’s vehicle head on. Wheat attempted to make a right hand turn onto KY 930 when the officers conducted a PIT maneuver on her vehicle, then pinned it against a guardrail to prevent her from taking off again.

Officer Lawson was treated and released from the Knox County Hospital for non-life threatening injuries sustained during the head-on collision.

Wheat is charged with 2 counts of Criminal Attempt-Murder (police officer), 2 counts of Assault 2nd Degree, 3 counts of Wanton Endangerment 1st Degree, Fleeing/Evading Police 1st Degree, Resisting Arrest, Reckless Driving, Theft By Unlawful Taking u/$500 (shoplifting), Speeding, Possession of A Controlled Substance 2nd Degree, Illegal Possession of A Legend Drug, Robbery 2nd, and Operating on a Suspended License. Wheat also served with a bench warrant.

She was lodged in the Knox County Detention Center.

Officers were assisted by Barbourville Police Chief Winston Tye, Officer Elijah Broughton, Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Carmack, and KSP Troopers Chad Gregory and Frank Russell.