A Langley resident was arrested Tuesday evening following a high speed chase during which he allegedly rammed his vehicle into two police cruisers.
Thomas Edward Skeens, 50, of Langley, is facing numerous felony and misdemeanor charges, as well as traffic violations, in multiple cases.
According to documents filed in Floyd District Court, Floyd County Sheriff deputies Kevin Thacker, Justin Szymchack and Darrin Lawson were called to investigate a call regarding a man identified as Skeens in the parking lot at Walmart. The caller told authorities that Skeens was a “wanted” person.
“He was wanted on, gee-oh, I don’t know how many charges,” Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt said. “But several of them were serious felony charges that he was wanted on.”
Thacker reported in court documents that Skeens fled after the deputies attempted to stop him in the parking lot. In his alleged attempt to avoid capture there, Thacker reported that Skeens struck the front of Szymchack’s cruiser, causing damage, and then attempted to turn onto Ky. 114.
“All 3 (Sheriff Department) units activated blue lights making contact with (Skeen’s) vehicle,” Thacker reported. “(Skeens) turned away from Deputy Szymchack’s cruiser to avoid being stopped and he struck it in the left front causing damage to the cruiser. (Skeens) then continued from the parking lot, nearly hitting other vehicles entering and exiting the lot. (Skeens) then attempted to make a left hand turn onto Ky. Rt. 114 when he lost control and did a complete 360 in the intersection nearly hitting more vehicles.”
After regaining control of the vehicle, Thacker reported Skeens drove west on Ky. 114, reaching speeds of 90 miles per hour.
Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt reported that the chase lasted about eight minutes and, in that time, Skeens drove about six miles on Ky. 114 to Granny Fitz Branch, where the pursuit ended.
There, Thacker alleges that Skeens “put his vehicle in reverse” and rammed his cruiser, causing damage.
Thacker reported that deputies dislodged a knife Skeens was carrying when he exited the vehicle and he resisted arrest. Prior to being lodged at the Floyd County jail, Skeens was taken to Highlands ARH for treatment of injuries sustained while resisting arrest.
In this case, Skeens is charged with speeding 26 mph or more over the limit, failure to maintain insurance, first-degree fleeing/evading police, driving on a suspended license, resisting arrest, two counts of third-degree assault of a police officer, three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment of a police officer, tampering with physical evidence and DUI. In a separate case, he was also charged with numerous traffic violations, including resisting arrest, failure to register transfer of a vehicle and other charges.
Szymchack reports in one of the citations, that after Skeens was arrested and taken to the Floyd County jail in the fleeing/evading case, deputies found a clear bag in his underwear containing a crystal-like substance that is believed to be methamphetamine. He was charged with first-degree possession of a controlled substance in that case.
Hunt reported that additional charges may also be pending against Skeens. He said that after Skeens was arraigned on Wednesday, deputies filed another charge against him, accusing him of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance because of the drugs and money allegedly found on his person when he was at the jail.
Hunt also said that other charges are also expected to be filed against him on behalf of people who were nearly hit during the chase.
“First and foremost, thank God no body was hurt,” Hunt said. “And the public, we’ve had several people of the public call us today and last night that either was in somewhat danger through the pursuit. They talked about how they seen the car and almost got hit by the car or had to swerve to miss it, and one person just came in here a few minutes ago and signed a statement that he was one of the vehicles that was almost hit by the Skeens vehicle. So, obviously, we’re fortunate that nobody was hit or hurt.”
This arrest was one of many Skeens has faced in Floyd and other counties over the past few years.
During his arrest, he was served with several warrants.
One of them was filed by Szymchack on Jan. 14. Szymchack charged Skeens with first-degree wanton endangerment and first-degree fleeing/evading police. He reports in the warrant that on Jan. 13, Skeens allegedly fled the scene of a domestic violence incident in which is he accused of assaulting his girlfriend. Szymchack reported that Skeens swerved his vehicle towards the deputy, the warrant says.
Skeens was also served with a warrant issued in September 2019 in a case in which he was charged with possession of marijuana, second-degree disorderly conduct and third-degree criminal mischief. That warrant came because he failed to appear for a court trial.
He was also served with a warrant for a bench warrant that was issued in October 2019 when he failed to appear for his arraignment in a case in which he was charged with third-degree criminal trespassing and failure to register transfer of a motor vehicle.
Another Floyd County warrant served against Skeens was also issued in September when he failed to appear in court for a case in which he was charged with public intoxication of a controlled substance.
On Aug. 12, 2019, Skeens was placed on supervised probation for two years after he was sentenced in Floyd Circuit Court in a case in which he was found guilty of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance. He was sentenced to serve 1 year and 12 months in prison, with one year and six months of that sentence suspended as part of a plea negotiation. On Sept. 12, 2019, a bench warrant was issued against Skeens in that case for an alleged probation violation.
Officials report that Skeens also had cases pending in other counties.
Hunt thanked the public for its help in this case.
“We are trying, first and foremost, we are trying. Bad guys do bad things and this is just one of those deals where you have to do, sometimes, what you’ve got to do to remove these people from the street and society and put them where they belong. Public help is the greatest thing,” Hunt said.
Talking about the others drivers on the road when the pursuit for Skeens was underway, Hunt encourages drivers to drive with caution in similar situations.
“The best tip that we could give is just stay where you are. Don’t try to change lanes and don’t try to predict where the pursuit or the bad guy or the police may try to go. If you’re in the left lane, just stay put. If you’re in the right lane, stay put, and just come to slow, not a sudden stop, but a gradual slow-down and try to remove yourself from the danger as much as you can,” Hunt said. “And then don’t let curiosity get the best of you and want to follow or chase or try to get involved to see what’s happening. Just kindly remove yourself as best you can and let it happen, let it go around you or go past you.”