The only thing certain about being a law enforcement officer is that the job is unpredictable.
Two Lee County Sheriff’s Department Investigators could attest to that statement.
On Sept. 10, 2020, at approximately 1:35 p.m., the Lee County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to a residence located on Road 468 near Shannon, for a reported disturbance.
A female on the scene said that a family member was initially met at the residence by Latonya Mayfield, 41, with a hammer in her hands threatening to kill herself.
“The call came out — there was a disturbance at a house involving a weapon, that the individual had left, with the weapon and had taken a vehicle,” said Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson. “Originally there was the possibility there was a special needs child, who had been kidnapped (and in the stolen vehicle). We didn’t really know where this child was, at that moment, because we couldn’t get the caller back on the line, and officers hadn’t arrived yet. We were in limbo.”
After the initial call of the disturbance, the caller advised that Mayfield had taken a 2018 black Cadillac with an open trunk, and left the scene headed toward Shannon.
Investigators (in an unmarked vehicle) with the Lee County Sheriff’s Department saw the vehicle headed north on Hwy 145 near the Brewer Road intersection approaching the city of Verona.
“Myself and investigator Chishom are headed down to that area to check on a sex offender. As we’re going through Verona, we hear this call about this lady who has a hammer, busted out windows, taken a car, that it’s a black Cadillac with the trunk open,” said Lee County Sheriff’s Department investigator Brian Kilgore. “So as we’re coming through Verona, Chisholm noticed this car and you could see her, coming into oncoming traffic, just anywhere she could get around a car, I’m guessing she’s going a good 85 to 90 miles per hour, and she never checked the red lights, which were both red.”
Officers, at this point, don’t know if there is a child in the vehicle, if there are weapons, other then the hammer, in the car, or what’s going on in the mind of the suspect.
“We get turned around, finally catch up with her at South Green, get behind her and she goes to take a left. By now, our lights and siren are on — she goes to get on 45 north, her window is gone because she busted it out and she motions us, like ‘follow me,’” Kilgore said. “So we take off — I mean she’s litterly passing vehicles on the right shoulder, in the grass, at 80 miles per hour. Like the sheriff said, there’s this thought — there might be an autistic child in the vehicle with her. I mean, she was driving like a fool, before we ever started chasing her.”
The driver of the vehicle failed to stop when directed and the pursuit continued north on Hwy. 45 to Barnes Crossing Road.
“We’re northbound and about Main Street, one of our marked vehicles gets around us and gets behind her. So they take the lead and we continued north. She’s driving crazy. People are all over the place. She’s going right lane, left lane, going off in the grass — she hit the grass around Scruggs going a good 100 miles-per-hour. We get off at the Barnes Crossing exit and another deputy used his car to try to block her, to keep her from going towards the mall, and away from traffic,” Kilgore said.
She slid past that deputy’s vehicle and headed back Hwy. 45 south again. It was during this time, law enforcement got back in touch with the initial caller during the pursuit and confirmed the Cadillac had been stolen by Mayfield, and also made sure she was alone.
“The autistic child was at the sister’s house, where Mayfield stole the Cadillac. The family had been dealing with problems with Mayfield for about a month,” Johnson said. “Everything was going that quick.” The sheriff snapped his fingers three times.
The pursuit was taken over by that marked Lee County Sheriff Department Vehicle and continued south to the Brewer road exit where they exited off Hwy. 45 and went to Hwy. 145 and back to Shannon.
“By now, we know we need to get some spikes down or she’s going to kill someone,” Kilgore said.
A spike strip is a device or incident weapon used to impede or stop the movement of wheeled vehicles by puncturing their tires.
Speeds of the pursuit continued, ranging from 60 miles per hour to over 100 miles per hour.
The pursuit went into Shannon then back north thru Verona on Raymond Avenue.
“She avoided the first set (spikes) about Interstate 22, around McCullough she avoided a second set — about that time we get to Main headed back south, we had more then just two vehicles in pursuit,” Kilgore said. “We got off at Brewer Road, took a right there, got on 245, took a left, went into Shannon, she circled the Buzy Bee and went back through Verona again.”
Finally, at the intersection of Gloster Street and Hwy. 6, the Tupelo Police Department was able to get the spike-strips deployed and she ran over them.
The vehicle careened back on Hwy. 45 and proceeded to go north on Hwy 45 but both passenger side tires had already began deflating rapidly.
“She gets out with that hammer and she’s yelling different things at a deputy,” Kilgore said. “Come to find out, she’d told different people that she just didn’t want to be here no more.”
“To pick up on what he said, this is the kind of stuff we deal with on a daily basis. As quickly as the deputy got her stopped, she had this weapon in her hand and tells him ‘just shoot me,’” Johnson said. “With a mindset like that, you just don’t know. Videos don’t catch all of it. You don’t see the whole scenario. You can’t see or feel the emotions, the feelings, the fear — none of that stuff is there. It’s like watching a car wreck in a movie versus being in a real car wreck.”
The Lee County Sheriffs Department, Tupelo Police Department, Verona Police Department, Shannon Police Department, and the Mississippi Highway Patrol all assisted in this pursuit and were able to bring the pursuit to a safe end.
Johnson offered special thanks to the Lee County Sheriff Department Dispatchers and the Lee County E911 dispatchers for their valuable assistance in helping with this case and it resulting in a safe and peaceful end.
Mayfield was charged with felony eluding, fleeing and felony taking of a motor vehicle. Her bond was set at $75,000. As of presstime Wednesday, she remained in the Lee County Jail, but she is eligible to bond out.