JONESBORO, Ark. – A small red car ran a man off the road and then the driver pulled a gun on the him, the alleged victim’s 911 call said.
The driver, and suspect, was Garrett N. Thomason, 25, of Jonesboro – a Jonesboro police officer, at the time, who reportedly began his law enforcement career at Pocahontas Police Department.
The incident report, obtained by NEA Report through a Freedom of Information Act request to the City of Pocahontas, begins at 7:20 p.m. on Thursday, May 11. Central dispatch advised police they had received a call reporting a small red car ran the 21-year-old caller off of Pace Road, heading toward Burger King, in Pocahontas. The caller then said the driver pulled a pistol up and pointed it at him. A female passenger of the small red car pushed the driver’s hand down that was pointing the gun before the small red car reportedly pulled into GNC, a factory producing chemical spraying equipment, on Pace Road. The caller obtained the license plate number and reported it to police.
It returned to Thomason, the report said.
The occupants of the small red car, Thomason, and the female who pushed down the gun during the described-road rage incident, went inside of GNC and returned shortly to their vehicle. They continued down Pace Road toward Highway 67 North. This was when Pocahontas Police Officer Brian Tilghman and a Randolph County Sheriff’s Office deputy pulled the vehicle over.
Tilghman approached the car and asked Thomason to exit the vehicle and speak with the officers. The officer asked him where his firearm was and Thomason raised his shirt, displaying a holstered Glock 9mm. The Pocahontas officer secured the gun. It had been loaded and chambered, Tilghman reported.
The officer asked Thomason what happened. The report says Thomason said a vehicle was following him at a high rate of speed and following very closely. Thomason said he pointed at them and then pulled out his loaded pistol, showing it to them. He claimed he did not point it at them.
The officer then spoke to the passenger, Sarah F. Stone, 27, of Jonesboro, who said she didn’t know what was going on when she noticed that Thomason pulled his gun out. The report says she stated Thomason pointed the gun out the rear window toward the vehicle that was following them, contradicting the officer’s claim he had not pointed the gun at the vehicle.
The vehicle following the two was driven by the 21-year-old caller, with a 19-year-old girl riding along. They both reported to police that they planning to call in Thomason for reckless driving, already, when the driver of the red car pointed a gun at them. That’s when they said Stone pushed the gun down while it was being pointed at them – all the while being loaded, apparently.
Based on the descriptions by everyone except for Thomason, who claimed he only “showed” the gun, the then-Jonesboro Police Department Officer was placed under arrest and transported to Randolph County Jail for a CID hold. The handgun was taken into evidence. The charge he faces is aggravated assault, a felony.
The report says the police chief himself, Cecil Tackett, assisted with the report along with several other officers.
Thomason was placed on paid administrative leave by the Jonesboro Police Department, pending both the outcome of an investigation by Arkansas State Police, who has taken over for PPD, and an internal investigation by JPD’s Office of Professional Standards. Thomason was still in his probationary period with the police force, having been employed since July, 2016, a source told NEA Report.
The day had not concluded when at the request of the officer, Police Chief Elliott and Thomason met at JPD’s Caraway Road headquarters at 7 p.m. Friday night, May 12. Thomason submitted his resignation and Elliott accepted it, a release said.
This resignation prevented news outlets from receiving access to the disciplinary records of Thomason by FOIA request.
It is not known as of this publication if Thomason will be charged with felony aggravated assault, a lower misdemeanor charge, or anything at all. State Police are handling the investigation.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified GNC as “GNC Nutrition.” The GNC in the story was a chemical spraying equipment manufacturer. We regret the error.