Woman accused of fleeing police, assaulting officer

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published September 30, 2022

HAZEL PARK — A woman will stand trial for allegedly speeding away from Hazel Park police with her infant in the car, slamming into another vehicle and injuring its driver, and then fighting with the responding officer.

Shawnetta Thompkins, 32, of Detroit, faces a five-year felony for allegedly fleeing and eluding police, a 10-year felony for allegedly attempting to disarm a police officer, and a four-year felony for allegedly assaulting an officer causing injury. She also faces misdemeanor charges for alleged fourth-degree child abuse and allegedly failing to stop at the scene of an accident, each punishable by up to one year in jail, and a 93-day misdemeanor for allegedly driving on a suspended license.

Thompkins was bound over to Oakland County Circuit Court on Sept. 20 and was awaiting trial at press time.

“I think it’s a matter of fear and misunderstanding. I think she misunderstood what she should do and how she should do it. She panicked, and was startled,” said Mark Brown, Thompkins’ attorney, in a phone interview. “Also, she’s a very good mother, and she’s supported by her entire family.”

The original incident occurred on June 21. Thompkins was reportedly driving a Ford Focus when police tried to stop her for speeding on Eight Mile Road near John R Road.

Police say that as they followed, Thompkins increased her speed from 65 mph to 90 mph, racing east on Eight Mile. She then tried swerving around traffic on Dequindre Road, at which point she allegedly crashed into another vehicle, causing minor injuries to the other driver.

Her vehicle was disabled as a result of the crash. She came to a stop down a side street east of Eight Mile in Detroit, parking at an apartment complex. While sitting in her car, she reportedly held up her hands in compliance with the officer’s orders, but when he tried to open the door, Thompkins allegedly jumped at the officer, grabbing his collar.

The officer told her to stop or he would deploy a Taser, but she reportedly continued to struggle with him. The officer fired his Taser but struck himself in the arm. When other officers arrived, the two were still fighting, and the suspect was allegedly trying to grab the Taser.

That’s when police say the suspect was finally subdued and handcuffed, at which point they discovered her 7-month-old son strapped into a baby seat in the car. The boy was subsequently turned over to his grandmother. As for the officer who was struck, his arm was bloodied and swollen from the Taser, but he was treated at a hospital and released.

Hazel Park Police Chief Brian Buchholz said there were no signs of substance use that would possibly explain the suspect’s behavior. He said the case illustrates the dangers police face dealing with people who sometimes act unpredictably and irrationally.

“Officers have to be ready for anything at a moment’s notice, and things can escalate quickly. This woman would probably have been advised to take care of her traffic warrants because she had her infant son in the car. She decided to escalate a speeding ticket into a senseless pursuit that endangered herself, her infant son, the officer, every citizen driving in that area, and the injured driver she struck. Once her vehicle could not drive any further, she then fought and tried to disarm one of the three officers needed to arrest her,” Buchholz said in an email.

The chief said dangerous road incidents appear to be trending nationwide.

“I don’t have an answer for why the violence has increased, but it has across the country, and not just in major cities. The poor and dangerous driving has also increased since the start of COVID, and has not diminished yet. Injury accidents have increased, despite safer vehicles being on the road. We want to create a safe place to travel, and our officers are looking for the ‘fatal five’ factors: impaired, aggressive, distracted, speeding, and seat belt offenses. The biggest complaint I hear constantly is always about bad driving,” Buchholz said.

“Studies also show that traffic enforcement leads to lower crime rates,” he added. “That is another reason we are out there. Simple traffic stops many times lead to warrant arrests, (as well as) drugs, guns and other contraband being taken off the streets.”