NET officer hurt during car chase
by W. Brian Hale
Oct 24, 2010 | 7175 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michael Joe Kirkland
Michael Joe Kirkland
slideshow
Jessica Nicole Nix
Jessica Nicole Nix
slideshow
An officer of the Walker County Narcotics Enforcement Team was seriously injured on Friday as a result of a late-night pursuit of a suspect vehicle.

Chuck Tidwell suffered head injuries, including a concussion, that required him to be airlifted to UAB Hospital in Birmingham, where he was listed in stable condition at press time, according to Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey.

The chase, which occurred in the Kansas community, began at 10 p.m. when NET officers spotted a wanted individual, Michael Joe Kirkland, 50, of Carbon Hill, who allegedly fled when the authorities attempted to stop him.

After driving at high speeds and traveling through many residents' yards, the motorist finally stopped.

"At that point, the officers on the scene had thought the suspect's vehicle had become disabled and officer Chuck Tidwell got out of his vehicle to approach the suspect," Tirey said. "At this point the suspect attempted to run over officer Tidwell, who was forced to jump out of the way to avoid getting hit. Tidwell got back in his vehicle to continue the pursuit and was involved in a wreck shortly afterward."

Tirey said although the wreck took Tidwell out of the chase, another patrol vehicle was able to stay in pursuit.

"Another patrol vehicle that was assisting in the operation spotted the suspect's vehicle and pursued it into a very desolate, remote area," Tirey said. "By this time the suspect's vehicle could not go any further and two suspects exited the vehicle and fled."

Members of the Alabama Department of Corrections' tracking unit tracked Kirkland for several hours afterward before losing the suspect's trail. Tirey said that his office is currently checking with Walker County District Attorney's office for outstanding charges on Kirkland.

"He has a prior history with us on unlawful manufacturing and trafficking charges in this county," Tirey said.

A search inside the suspect's vehicle revealed two meth labs referred to as "Shake and Bake" meth labs -- portable labs that allow manufacturing anywhere. The amount of meth in the two labs were approximately 440 grams, which is enough for a trafficking charge, according to Tirey.

Tirey held a briefing with his officers on Saturday afternoon to discuss the immediate further search for Kirkland.

Although officers were not able to catch the primary suspect, NET officials were able to nab his passenger. Jessica Nicole Nix, 25, of Fayette County was charged with unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. She is currently being held in the Walker County Jail.

Along with the Alabama Department of Corrections and Sheriff's Office operatives, Tirey said units from the Jasper Police Department, Carbon Hill, Parrish, Cordova, Winfield, Brilliant and the Alabama State Troopers were dispatched to assist in the operation.