Fletcher named as suspect in Oct. high-speed pursuit

Clark County Prosecutor Blake Batson on Wednesday filed formal charges against a Hot Springs woman who in October was shot by police after a high-speed chase that stretched from Caddo Valley to Joan. Wendy Jean Fletcher, 32, of 130 Woodlore Point, Hot Springs, is charged with two counts of aggravated assault and felony fleeing. On the afternoon of Oct. 10, Fletcher allegedly evaded police from three separate agencies — the Caddo Valley, Arkadelphia and Henderson State University police departments — as she drove at speeds reaching 120 mph through Arkadelphia. The pursuit ended just west of Joan on Highway 51 when Fletcher lost control of her vehicle and allegedly pointed a rifle at officers. According to an affidavit filed with Batson's office and written by Jimmie Thomas II, special agent with the Arkansas State Police, Caddo Valley police were blocking traffic on Highway 7 to assist other vehicles entering the city from Interstate 30 when Fletcher "pulled around all the vehicles that were stopped until she reached the location" of CVPD Lt. Robert Ursery, who was directing traffic. Ursery instructed Fletcher she couldn't pass, but Fletcher began "to yell at him, saying that her grandmother was having a heart attack,” according to the affidavit, which continues: "She then disregarded Lt. Ursery and began driving away at a very high rate of speed.” Ursery then "yelled" at Police Chief Aaron Collier to warn him of the oncoming vehicle. Collier's attempt to stop Fletcher was unsuccessful, as he "had to jump out of the way to avoid being struck," the affidavit states. "[Collier] stated that he could see [Fletcher] inside the vehicle as it approached him. She had both of her hands on the steering wheel and was shaking her head as if to say 'No!' as he was attempting to get her to stop." That alleged incident resulted in the first of the two aggravated assault charges. Ursery and Collier then ran to their patrol units and began their chase, with Collier radioing the Arkadelphia Police Department to caution them of the pursuit. Adam Taylor — the APD patrolman who was identified in the affidavit as the officer who later fired at and struck Fletcher — began his pursuit, as well. Taylor was patrolling state Highway 7/North 10th Street, apparently in the area between Gildner AutoGroup and the Ideal Bread store, when he “observed [Fletcher's] car coming at him in the opposite lane traveling at a high rate of speed,” according to the affidavit. "He observed the vehicle travel over into the center turn lane to pass other vehicles. As it did this, it almost struck one or two other vehicles." Taylor then activated his emergency lights and began pursuit, which "reached speeds of 110 to 120 mph through the area of Henderson … An unsuccessful attempt was made by HSU police to stop [Fletcher]." The affidavit continues: "The pursuit speed slowed to about 80 mph as they reached the intersection of Pine and 10th streets … [Fletcher] drove through the intersection without regard for other vehicles or the traffic light, causing one vehicle legally entering the intersection from Pine Street to nearly strike her vehicle in the side." The affidavit notes that police made “numerous” attempts to stop the vehicle while in the Arkadelphia city limits but were unsuccessful, causing the pursuit to continue across the Ouachita River bridge. Between the bridge and the Highway 7/51 junction Taylor, using his patrol car's external speaker, reportedly gave verbal commands for her to stop, but she "continued at a high rate of speed and [Fletcher] continued to pass other vehicles as she fled,” according to the affidavit. The police chase ended about four miles east of the intersection when Fletcher’s vehicle "began to slide out of control" and “rotated about 180 degrees while sliding and came to a rest in the ditch on the [north] side of the highway,” the affidavit states. At that point, the affidavit continues, Taylor stopped his car in front of Fletcher's vehicle, exited his vehicle, drew his weapon, and ordered Fletcher to show her hands and get on the ground. “At this time," the affidavit states, "[Fletcher] was standing outside her vehicle beside the open driver’s side door. She disregarded [Taylor's] commands… and reached inside the open door of her vehicle. She came out of the vehicle holding a rifle." That alleged incident resulted in the second of the two aggravated assault charges. "Officer Taylor fired his duty weapon" at Fletcher, who "fell to the ground as she dropped [her] weapon," the affidavit states. Other APD officers not part of the chase then arrived at the scene and handcuffed Fletcher as Taylor requested an ambulance. Fletcher was flown by helicopter to a Little Rock hospital. Court officials say she was hospitalized for "several weeks," but declined to say where she is now or whether she is in custody. Jail officials at the Clark County Detention Center confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Fletcher was not incarcerated at the local facility. Each of the three offenses is a Class D felony punishable by up to six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Bond has been set at $50,000 and an electronic ankle monitor.