JPD: 2 arrested after witness catches them breaking into car

JPD: 2 arrested after witness catches them breaking into car
Stevenson Whitfield (Source: Craighead Co. Sheriff's Office)
Stevenson Whitfield (Source: Craighead Co. Sheriff's Office)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A judge found probable cause Wednesday to charge two men with breaking into a car after police say a witness caught one of them in the act.

Just before 8 p.m. Monday, Officer Nathan Ivy was traveling on Wilkins Avenue when he saw a dark-colored Chrysler 300 on Honeysuckle, driving with its lights off, make an "abrupt stop."

Ivy stated in his initial incident report he then heard someone yelling in the vicinity and turned on his emergency lights.

As he approached the car, Ivy said the driver looked at him then drove off at a "high rate of speed."

The man who had been yelling told the officer the men in the Chrysler had just broken into his brother's Toyota Avalon, which was parked in the street on Honeysuckle.

Ivy got back into his cruiser and chased after the 300, which "spun out while attempting to turn south at the intersection of MacArthur and Wilkins," the report said.

Ivy reported finding the car stopped sideways in the roadway, with 18-year-old Stevenson Whitfield of West Memphis still in the driver's seat. He then saw another man, later identified as 18-year-old Tavares Harris, walking near the car.

The officer ordered Whitfield out of the car at gunpoint and told Harris to stand beside the front of the car. He ordered both men to place their hands on their heads but said Whitfield "continuously turned around and continued to drop his right hand near his front right pocket."

After another officer arrived to provide cover, Ivy handcuffed both men and read them their Miranda rights.

According to the incident report, Whitfield claimed he and Harris, who he claimed he didn't know, were riding around job hunting when Harris asked him to drop him off near Honeysuckle.

Whitfield reportedly told the officer he saw someone chasing Harris and that's when he sped off.

"I asked [Whitfield] why he sped off after I got in front of him and turned on my emergency lights and he stated that he didn't know I wanted him to stop," Ivy reported.

The witness told another officer he saw the Chrysler drive down the road, stop, and turn off his lights. When he saw Harris going through a vehicle, he reportedly confronted the two suspects.

When Harris took off running, the witness chased him down and confronted him.

During police questioning, Harris reportedly admitted to entering an unlocked vehicle on Honeysuckle but said he did not take anything.

When Detective Josh Wiiest asked Harris if Whitfield knew he was breaking into a car, he reportedly said he "probably did since he has done this before," court documents stated.

Harris reportedly told an officer he had recently received a traffic ticket and needed money to pay it.

Officers searched the Chrysler 300 and reported finding five cell phones, owners unknown.

On Wednesday, Craighead County District Judge David Boling found probable cause to charge Harris and Whitfield with breaking or entering/articles from a vehicle. He set their bonds at $1,500 each and ordered them to appear in circuit court on Nov. 22.

Boling also found probable cause to charge Whitfield with fleeing and careless and prohibited driving, both misdemeanors.

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