Fulton Co. Man Who Crashed Into 2 SJPD Squad Cars During Chase Sentenced

By Benjamin Cox on February 21, 2024 at 4:35am

A Fulton County man who got into a police chase that damaged multiple cars in the middle of Jacksonville this Fall is heading to prison.

45-year old Jeff Smith of Canton pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated battery to a police officer Tuesday afternoon in Morgan County Circuit Court.

On the afternoon of October 26th, West Central Joint Dispatchers began receiving calls of a reckless driver from complainants in the area of both East College and East State Streets. One caller indicated to dispatchers that the vehicle had been in a minor collision with another vehicle. Responding Jacksonville Police Officers went to the area and located a blue SUV that fit the description provided by callers. Officers then witnessed the vehicle run over a stop sign and drive through a boulevard. Officers attempted a traffic stop. The vehicle then stopped, the driver, later identified as Smith, shouted obscenities and unintelligible words at officers before getting back into the vehicle and speeding off. Smith then fled recklessly at high rates of speed, running off the road several more times. The pursuit lasted for approximately 2 blocks before Smith’s vehicle turned onto South Main Street where it struck a South Jacksonville Police patrol car and then turned back onto East Michigan Avenue where it struck another South Jacksonville Police squad car before becoming disabled.

Upon exit of the vehicle, Smith is said to have refused officer commands and was allegedly reaching back inside the vehicle to grab a weapon. Non-lethal munitions were deployed consisting of both a taser and beanbags to subdue Smith and take him into custody. A South Jacksonville officer was later evaluated at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital for treatment from the vehicle collision.

Smith was formally charged that afternoon with the aggravated battery to a peace officer charge along with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and several traffic charges.

On Tuesday afternoon, the remaining charges were dismissed per the plea agreement. Morgan County Chief Judge Chris Reif sentenced Smith to 8 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, 1 year of mandatory supervised release, and ordered him to pay a $500 county fine. Smith was also recommended for mental health and substance abuse treatment while incarcerated. Smith was given credit for 118 days served in the Morgan County Jail.