July 9, 2003
MOUNT JULIET (WKRN and AP) -- Two law enforcement officers were struck and killed Wednesday morning by a fleeing car as they laid spike strips on Interstate 40 to stop it.
State Safety Department spokeswoman Beth Tucker Womack says a Mount Juliet city officer and a Wilson County deputy died in the incident shortly before 11:00 a.m. Knoxville time.
The dead officers are Wilson County deputy John Musice and Mount Juliet city policeman Jerry Mundy. The two were struck by a car that other law enforcement officers had been chasing for several miles, Womack said. Reports said that the chase had reached speeds of more than 125 mph.
"Both officers were on foot beside their parked vehicles when they were struck by the speeding automobile. Both were dead at the scene," Mount Juliet city manager Ken Shearer said in a statement.
"They were out of their car laying spike strips," Womack said. "The car veered to avoid the spike strips and struck the officers and a law enforcement vehicle."
More than 20 emergency vehicles responded to the scene at I-40 exit 226, about 25 miles east of Nashville. The crash closed the three westbound lanes of the interstate.
Womack says both people in the car were women and a check of the license plate indicated it was stolen in Maryville.
Womack says both people who were in the car are at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
Ashe said the women were in critical but stable condition. One is 33-year-old Dorothy Cash, of Knoxville. The driver is 21-year-old Fallon Lynn Tallent, from Maryville.
"I hope they survive. I hope we get our day in court," said Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe, who expects them to be charged with first-degree murder.
He said the officers properly put the stop sticks down and got off the roadway.
"They did it by the book and these people came along and attacked them," Ashe said during a news conference at the top of the interstate ramp.
Womack and Ashe declined to speculate on the speeds reached during the chase, saying investigators would determine that. More than 20 emergency vehicles responded to the scene at I-40 exit 226, about 25 miles east of Nashville.
The crash closed the three westbound lanes of the interstate. At midday, a THP helicopter was flying overhead, and an investigator was measuring distances at the scene with a "traffic wheel."
Debris was littered across several lanes, including an onramp, and the suspects' with a badly damaged front end was on shoulder.
Investigators were going through the vehicle's trunk. Just before the officers' bodies were removed, law enforcement authorities on the scene gathered near a fire truck for a brief memorial service.
Knoxville police say Officer Blake Barham saw Fallon Tallent in the stolen Mercedes around 8:22 Wednesday morning, driving through the parking lot at Walter P. Taylor homes. Tallent saw the officer, backed into his cruiser and sped off.
KPD says Tallent was driving close to 65 miles per hour down Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, onto Beaman and over to Magnolia Avenue. After pursuing Tallent for about a mile and a half, Officer Barham called off the pursuit.
Deputy Chief Don Green says, "As it approaches a more congested area, where he feels there might be more of a potential for an accident, then it's going to play in the minds of the officer and the supervisor."
Green says Fallon Tallent faces several charges in Knoxville including aggravated assault, theft of a vehicle and driving with a revoked license. Separate charges will be filed in Wilson County.
6 News Reporter Yvonne Nava also contributed to this report.
(Portions of this report copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)