Officer tased by fleeing shoplifting suspect

A Knoxville police officer was injured while trying to arrest a shoplifting suspect Friday afternoon.

According to KPD, officers were sent to the Walmart on Chapman Highway just before 1 p.m. The suspect, identified as Ricky Womack, 36, of Knoxville, was trying to leave the store with a stolen microwave when he was confronted by loss prevention employees and the first officer on the scene, Jeff Damewood. They managed to get Womack into the loss prevention office, but then he began arguing with Officer Damewood.

When the officer reached for his handcuffs, according to KPD, Womack said he "wasn't going back to jail" and began fighting with Officer Damewood.

During the fight, Officer Damewood deployed his taser, but it had no effect. During the struggle, Womack grabbed the taser and ran out of the store.

In the parking lot, a second officer, Adam Barnett, was just arriving to assist, and tried to grab Womack from the driver's seat of his vehicle. Womack used the stolen taser on Officer Barnett, then hit the gas and sped away, throwing the injured officer to the ground. As he was driving away, Womack tried to hit Officer Damewood, who was coming to assist Officer Barnett.

Officer Barnett was transported to the hospital to be treated for a leg injury. He has been with KPD since July 2011.

Womack drove a Nissan Maxima north on Chapman Highway and was spotted by officers as he was crossing the South Knoxville Bridge. Officers pulled the car over and took him and three passengers into custody. A man and two women in the car were interviewed and released. Womack was charged with two counts of aggravated assault on an officer, two counts of resisting arrest, two counts of simple assault (on two Walmart employees), theft of the taser, fleeing in a vehicle, and numerous driving related charges.

Officer Damewood joined KPD in January 1997.


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