Court shares full story on driver now facing first-degree murder charge in deadly Emporia car chase

Local News

EMPORIA, Kan. (KSNT) – Lyon County prosecutors have now upped and formally filed charges against a man that police said led them on a car chase before hitting and killing an Emporia driver.

Devawn Mitchell, 23, faces charges in “State of Kansas vs. Deshawn Tharin Mitchell” including:

  • First-degree murder
  • Aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer
  • Three counts of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer
  • Three counts of reckless driving

Emporia police said Mitchell led them on a chase through Emporia that ultimately ended when he crashed into Steven A. Henry’s truck. The crash killed Henry.

KSNT News obtained the affidavit in the Lyon County District Court case, where an Emporia Police Department detective shared the agency’s report on its deadly chase with Mitchell. EPD had ten officers involved in the chase that served as witnesses in the report.

An EPD officer driving at 1:21 p.m. in the 1000 block of Commercial Street in town said a grey Honda Civic turned onto the same street, going southbound. The Civic stayed in the turn lane, then swerved towards the officer’s car.

The officer said they had to swerve out of the way, and spotted Mitchell driving the car. When they turned on their police lights and sirens, they said Mitchell sped off in the turn lane, forcing other drivers to move right as he went by. The officer said he was going more than 50 miles per hour passing cars and running stop signs. They chased him for a short time before stopping the pursuit when he drove past Walnut Elementary School.

Another officer said they spotted Mitchell at 2:17 p.m. at a stop sign at Sonora Drive and Prairie Street. The officer tried to approach him from behind to initiate a traffic stop, but he fled again.

An investigator in a marked police car said they spotted Mitchell again at 18th Avenue and Graphic Arts Road, waiting behind another car to enter a roundabout. When the investigator turned on their police lights, Mitchell sped off again going over 60 miles per hour in a 35 miles per hour zone. The investigator stopped chasing because they said he had no regard for the safety of other drivers, but continued to follow him without lights on. Mitchell crossed through the intersection of Highway 50 and Graphic Arts Road before turning onto West 6th Avenue.

The investigator said Mitchell slowed down to a normal speed heading east on 6th Avenue before he stopped in the middle of the roadway at Graham and Sutton Place. They turned on their police lights again at 2:26 and got behind Mitchell, who remained stopped in the car.

Officers arrived on the scene and got in a row behind the investigator’s car, prepared for a car stop. Two more EPD cars got on Sutton Place, blocking Mitchell in on the road. EPD tried to use a loudspeaker to get Mitchell to come out of the car. At 2:29, the investigator said Mitchell drove over the curb and onto Shelley Electric’s property to flee the officers’ blockade. He drove over a tree and got back onto Sutton Place going eastbound.

The EPD detective reported that the multitude of officers chased after Mitchell with lights and sirens on, and he ran multiple stop signs before an EPD sergeant told them to stop chasing him near 6th and Anderson.

Another officer spotted Mitchell passing 6th and Garfield around 2:30 p.m., and then the detective saw him pass 6th and West Street.

They said Mitchell entered the turning lane from the eastbound lane and immediately reentered the eastbound inside lane, where his Civic crashed into the rear of Henry’s truck. The detective saw Henry’s white Ford F-150 go airborne and hit a utility pole on the driver’s side.

(KSNT Photo/Michael Dakota)

The detective said he went towards Mitchell’s Civic and pulled his gun on him. Mitchell put his hands up, the detective and other officers opened the car’s door and ordered him out.

The detective said he then went to Henry’s truck and tried to call out to him, but got no response. A woman approached the truck and said she was a doctor. She couldn’t find a pulse, and the group tried to free him from the truck. Once he was out, an officer began giving CPR. Emergency medical crews arrived at the scene at 2:37 p.m. and continued to give CPR until 2:53 when they pronounced Henry dead.

Authorities took Mitchell from the scene of the crash to Newman Regional Health to treat minor injuries and then arrested him on charges including second-degree murder. The Lyon County District Court reported Mitchell’s first appearance before District Magistrate Judge Douglas P. Jones will now be held Monday, March 22, live-streamed.

Records from the Kansas Department of Corrections show Mitchell was out of prison on community supervision for a previous violent felony conviction.

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