A routine traffic stop Tuesday led to a car chase and manhunt that lasted over two hours.
Ragland Police Chief James “Bubba” Brown said he stopped a vehicle at 2:36 p.m. on Church Street in front of the fire department.
“As I was running his information sitting in my vehicle, he took off in his vehicle,” Brown said. “He went from Church Street to Main Street to Seventh Street and back to Main Street.”
Brown said once the driver got back on Main Street, he jumped out of the car while going about 30 mph.
“The car jumped the sidewalk, went across a vacant lot onto Alverson Avenue and ran off a big embankment before coming to a stop,” Brown said.
Brown identified the driver as James Aaron Taft, 20. His last known address was in Pell City. Brown said Taft moved to the St. Clair County area from Texas when he was 15.
With Taft on the run, Brown called in assistance from the St. Clair County Correctional K-9 unit to help track him. Also helping in the search was the Riverside Police Department and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.
Brown said Taft was apprehended and placed into custody at about 4:50 p.m. He was found hiding in the woods not far from Alabama 144 across from Industrial Drive near Morningstar Road. He was taken to the St. Clair County Jail in Ashville.
“I believe Taft ran because he had a felony warrant from the county,” Brown said. “He originally was charged some time back with shooting a 12-gauge shotgun into an occupied dwelling by the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.”
On Tuesday, Brown charged Taft with reckless endangerment and eluding a police officer.