EMPORIA (KSNT) – The trial for the man charged in the death of a former NFL football player, who retired in Emporia, started Monday morning. Witnesses testified about what they saw in March of 2021 when Devawn Mitchell fled from police in a car and struck the rear of Steven Henry’s pickup truck.

Henry, 64, was killed when the pickup truck he was driving was rear-ended and thrown into a utility pole.

One witness to the crash cried when she described how Mitchell’s car hit the white truck that Henry was driving.

In later testimony, authorities described the life-saving measures that were taken by officers at the scene who performed CPR in an attempt to save Henry’s life.

Lyon County prosecutors formally filed charges in March of 2021 against the 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. Devawn 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

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 Photo/Michael Dakota)

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.

(KSNT Photo / Michael K. Dakota)

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.

(KSNT Photo/Michael Dakota)

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.

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.

Devawn Mitchell (photo at left), and the pickup truck Steven Henry was driving when he was killed (photo at right)