Knoxville – A Byron man who stole a patrol car and led deputies on a high-speed chase in June was sentenced to prison Wednesday.
Gator Leon Shaw, 26, pleaded guilty to theft by taking during a hearing in Crawford County Superior Court. A judge sentenced him to serve 20 years, 10 of them in prison. Shaw also must pay $5,421.59 restitution to the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office for damage to the patrol car incurred when he crashed it into a tree.
If the case had gone to trial, prosecutor Neil Halvorson would have presented evidence showing:
A Crawford County Sheriff’s Office deputy was dispatched to Shaw’s grandfather’s home on Burnett Road in Byron on June 17 due to allegations Shaw had stolen his grandfather’s truck. The grandfather also notified law enforcement that Shaw had an unloaded gun.
After learning that Shaw was on the property, the deputy confronted him. Shaw led the deputy on a short chase on foot before Shaw got into the deputy’s marked patrol car, a Ford Taurus, and drove away.
Halvorson played the patrol car’s dash camera video from the 9-minute car chase during Wednesday’s hearing. Before crashing the cruiser on Gunters Mill Road, Shaw reached and exceeded 100 mph six times. Driving at speeds far above the posted speed limits, Shaw met dozens of cars on the road and passed a few as he drove through portions of Crawford and Peach counties. At some point, Shaw activated the emergency lights on the car. A number of motorists pulled to the side of the road to allow Shaw and the pursing police officers to pass them.
Shaw fled on foot after the car crash, but was apprehended nearby without incident. Deputies found a black pistol inside the car after the crash.
Crawford County Sheriff Lewis Walker testified during the hearing and said Shaw placed deputies, motorists and other residents in danger during the car chase. He said he’s thankful no weapons were fired.
Evidence also was presented of Shaw’s three prior felony convictions for possession of methamphetamine, burglary and aggravated stalking. He’d been released from prison nine days prior to the car chase and had failed to report to his probation officer as required.
Speaking after the hearing, District Attorney David Cooke said, “Mr. Shaw thought he could outrun the consequences of his reckless actions when he led deputies on a high-speed chase, endangering countless people in Crawford and Peach counties. With today’s sentencing, those consequences have caught up with him.”
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Contact: Amy Leigh Womack