Leading officers on a high-speed chase, a Racine man is facing several felony charges after he failed to turn himself into the authorities.
Devon Gatson, 30, was charged Thursday by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office with attempting to flee or elude a traffic officer and second-degree recklessly endangering safety. If convicted of both charges, Gatson faces up to 13 years six months in prison and/or fines up to $35,000.
According to the criminal complaint, officers with the Mount Pleasant Police Department responded to Carpetland, 6051 Regency West Dr., on Feb. 6 for a report of a man breaking a car window and leaving the scene in a silver Chevrolet Trailblazer.
An employee at the store told police that he saw a man — who was eventually identified as Gatson — parked in the parking lot asking the man if he knew where his dog was. The employee asked his co-workers to come outside because “it’s a regular occurrence to get weird people outside the store.”
When the employee came back outside, he saw Gatson leaving in a Trailblazer and the man noticed that his front passenger window had a crack and was partially shattered. The man called the police and tried to follow the SUV. Officers were able to locate Gatson, who was driving the vehicle westbound on Durand Avenue towards Oakes Road.
While conducting the traffic stop, the officer told Gatson he was a suspect in an attempted theft and told him he had a defective light on his car.
“He repeated that to me in a question form as if he did not believe me,” the complaint reads.
Gatson appeared cooperative but refused to step out of the vehicle. Gatson then put the car in drive and started to move forward. The officer yelled for Gatson to stop but he refused and the officer attempted to open the door but it was locked. Gatson took off at a high rate of speed and did a u-turn. Making no attempt to see if the left lane was clear, he crossed the left lane and took both eastbound lanes on highway 11 to complete the high-speed u-turn.
“Fortunately there was no traffic in any of those three lanes as the driver showed no regard for safety,” the complaint reads.
Calling out on his portable radio that Gatson was fleeing, the officer got back into his squad to follow him. Gatson passed other cars on the right-hand shoulder, went into oncoming traffic, and went through an intersection at Highway 11 and 31 as it switched from red to a green light. He reached speeds of above 80 mph.
Officers terminated the chase. Later Gatson called an officer on the department and told him that he would turn himself in but he never did.
A summons for his arrest was also filed after he failed to appear in court on Feb. 26 and was expected to make an initial appearance on Thursday afternoon, according to court records.