Drunk driver leads officers on dangerous McLaws Road chase

By Linda Kor

A drunken driving spree on the back roads of Holbrook landed two men in jail after a deputy was injured and patrol cars from three law enforcement agencies were damaged.

According to the Holbrook Police Department, the incident began at 4:28 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 27, when Holbrook Police Officers Joseph McCarthy and Eric Zimmerman were dispatched to a reported hit and run at the intersection of South Apache Drive and Romero Street.

The officers were delayed due to a train crossing Navajo Blvd., so Deputy Shawna Manygoats of the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office responded to the call in an attempt to locate the vehicle.

According to reports, the vehicle, a black 2012 Jeep owned by Rainbow Medical Transportation in Holbrook, was located by Deputy Manygoats as it was traveling on West Romero Street. The driver, later identified as Shawn Paul, 35, of Piñon, pulled the vehicle to the shoulder of the road when the deputy flashed the emergency lights on her patrol vehicle. As the deputy exited her vehicle, Paul sped off down McLaws Road heading west.

Officers Zimmerman and McCarthy joined Deputy Manygoats in the pursuit as the suspect drove at a high rate of speed down the two-lane road, swerving from left to right, leaving the road along the shoulder and swerving back into oncoming traffic. Several motorists traveling toward Paul pulled off the road to avoid a collision.

At one point, Paul slammed on his brakes, forcing Deputy Manygoat’s patrol vehicle to slam into his vehicle. She pulled to the side of the road as the other two officers continued the pursuit and were joined by Arizona Department of Public Safety Trooper Loren Larson. Paul drove for at least eight more miles before stopping the vehicle at the intersection with Obed Road in Joseph City.

When Officer Zimmerman pulled up behind the vehicle, Paul threw the Jeep into reverse and rammed into the patrol car. Trooper Larson pulled around to the front of the Jeep to block its exit and Paul then put it into drive and drove into the DPS vehicle.

With Paul blocked in, the officers exited their patrol cars and approached the Jeep with their weapons drawn. Paul reached down into the vehicle and brought up a bottle of vodka as Trooper Larson tasered him in the chest, uncertain if he was reaching for a weapon.

Paul was combative to officers who restrained him in order to transport him to the Little Colorado Medical Center in Winslow for treatment of minor injuries. A test taken at the hospital revealed that Paul had a blood alcohol content of .325 percent, which is .245 percent over the legal limit of .08 percent.

Deputy Manygoats was also transported to LCMC, where she was treated for a concussion and a laceration to her head.

Officers later contacted the victim of the hit and run, Naven Thomas, 39, of Holbrook, who stated that after Paul drove into his white 2008 Dodge truck once along Highway 77, he tried to run into it again as Thomas waited for officers to respond.

Directly after the incident, officers located an intoxicated man walking along Highway 77 who was identified as Lawrence Williams, 33, of Holbrook, an employee of Rainbow Medical Transportation who was assigned the vehicle driven by Paul. Williams admitted becoming intoxicated and driving the Jeep with Paul. He said that when he became tired he asked Paul to drive, and when he began to drive erratically, Williams jumped from the moving vehicle.

According to the police report, authorities at Rainbow Medical Transportation asserted Williams was not on a call when he drove the vehicle and should not have been using it.

The patrol vehicle belonging to HPD was totaled in the crash. Damage to the other two patrol vehicles belonging to the sheriff’s office and DPS was estimated at well over $1,000 each.

After being discharged from the hospital Paul was charged with unlawful flight from a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, aggravated DUI, four counts of criminal damage, and five counts each of endangerment and aggravated assault. Williams was charged with theft of a means of transportation and two counts of DUI. Both men were booked into the Navajo County Jail in Holbrook.