A Pikeville attorney charged with fleeing and evading police in Whitesburg says the Kentucky State Police trooper involved had harassed him in the past and was supposed to have no contact with him.
The incident occurred shortly before 11 p.m. on November 4 when James L. Hamilton allegedly drove 82 miles per hour on the Whitesburg bypass, and hid his car behind the Letcher County Health Department to get away from Trooper Wade Adams.
After he stopped, Hamilton allegedly refused to get out of his car, and accelerated away when Adams tried to remove him. The citation says Hamilton drove around the parking lot and refused to get out until a different trooper arrived to arrest him. The incident ended after Whitesburg Police Patrolman Jordan Clemons, Kentucky State Police Trooper Jason Bates and a KSP Sergeant Derek Sturgill arrived and Sturgill agreed to allow Bates to transport Hamilton to jail, according to the citation.
Another man, Joshua Collins, was a passenger in the car with Hamilton at the time of the incident.
Jonah Stephens, Hamilton’s law partner and his attorney in the case, said in a prepared statement that Hamilton had previously received “ unprovoked harassing communication sent to him by Trooper Adams via social media,” and that he had reported it to Kentucky State Police “command officials.”
“This resulted in an understanding that Trooper Adams was not to have any contact with Mr. Hamilton. Despite this understanding, on November 4, 2018, Trooper Adams followed Mr. Hamilton’s vehicle. Mr. Hamilton drove to a well lit area,” Stephens said in the statement. “Trooper Adams tried to effect an arrest of Mr. Hamilton, but Trooper Adams very quickly backed off and stepped well away from Mr. Hamilton’s vehicle after Trooper Adams realized Mr. Hamilton was not alone and when Mr. Hamilton showed Trooper Adams his cell phone, indicating Mr. Hamilton had dialed 911.”
When asked whether there is any personal situation between the two men, Stephens said, “I’m unable to confirm or deny that, but I will say you’re a smart man.” Stephens said he will be filing additional information with the court soon, but “I’m not at liberty to put it on the phone.” In a written statement, Hamilton said the communication involved prior to that night was “of a personal nature concerning another party having a mutual association with both Mr. Hamilton and Trooper Adams.”
Hamilton is charged with misdemeanor second-degree fleeing and evading police, driving more than 26 miles per hour over the speed limit, reckless driving, disregarding a stop sign, failure to or improper signal.
Whitesburg Police Chief Tyrone Fields said according to Clemens, he was coming out of the police department when “a car went by flying, and then a state police car went by with blue lights on.”
Fields said Clemens told him he thought the car had turned up Madison Street, so he went up Jenkins Road in an attempt to head them off and saw the blue lights across the river behind the heath department.
“Jordan said he got there after it was over,” Fields said.
He said he was “not questioning what Wade said, but said he was of the understanding that his department was not involved in the arrest.
“I read that citation, too,” Fields said. “I don’t know what’s going on.”
An investigator for the defense requested surveillance video from the health department the following day. The citation says Adams’s cruiser is not equipped with a mobile video recorder.
Here is the full text of the citation narrative by Adams and the written statement from Hamilton’s attorney.
CITATION ISSUED BY TROOPER WADE ADAMS
— “On 11-04-2018 at approximately 2057 hours, I was patrolling highway 15 in the Whitesburg community near Whitesburg ARH when I observed a vehicle traveling north at 82 mph in a 55 MPH zone. MVR.OPD. I turned on the speeding vehicle in an attempt to perform a traffic stop. I drove at a high speed to attempt to catch up but was unable to close the distance. The vehicle continued on HWY 15 at a high rate of speed until it abruptly turned off on to College Drive. As I came down College Drive with my blue lights activated I saw the speeding vehicle fail to stop at the stop sign at the intersection of College Drive and East Main Street. The vehicle bounced across East Main Street and into the opposing lane of traffic as it turned onto East Main Street. The vehicle continued at a high rate of speed as it passed by Whitesburg City Hall where Officer Jordan Clemens was getting into his cruiser. The vehicle then turned onto 2nd street. The vehicle came to a stop in the rear parking lot of the Letcher County Health Department building. I ran the vehicle’s tag number with KSP Post 13 Hazard. Before I was able to get the information back on the registration the vehicle revved the motor, leading me to believe the vehicle was going to flee again. I exited my cruiser and informed the driver through his rolled down driver-side window that he was under arrest for fleeing and evading. The driver refused to exit the vehicle and stated he would not get out of his car. I grabbed the driver-side door handle in an attempt to open the door and remove the driver from behind the wheel to keep him from fleeing again. The driver accelerated away from me, which caused my hand to be pulled off the door handle, and he proceeded through the health department parking lot. I ordered the driver to stop but he failed to do so. The driver then stated he wanted another trooper to arrest him. I told the driver to stop his vehicle and I would call for another trooper to come and arrest him. I asked Post 13 Hazard the location of Trooper Jason Bates, Unit 362. Trooper Bates stated he was en route to assist me. At that time I asked for the Sgt. on duty Trooper Derek Sturgill, Unit 189. The driver proceeded to exit the parking lot until Whitesburg Police Officer Jordan Clemens came around Jenkins road in an attempt to assist me, at which time the driver stopped his vehicle. Officer Clemens pulled in front of the vehicle and Troopers Jason Bates and Sgt. Trooper Derek Sturgill then pulled up beside Officer Clemens. I informed Sgt Derek Sturgill of the charges and the request of the driver to be arrested by another trooper. Sgt. Derek Sturgill then allowed Trooper Jason Bates to transport the driver, Mr. James Hamilton, to the Letcher County Jail. My cruiser is not equipped with an MVR. From the location on Highway 15 and the health department is approximately two miles. The passenger in the vehicle, Mr. Joshua Collins, stated he saw my blue lights behind their vehicle and asked the driver, Mr. Hamilton, to stop the vehicle. He stated Mr. Hamilton refused to stop and was attempting to hide from the blue lights.”
STATEMENT FROM DEFENSE ATTORNEY STEPHENS – “First and foremost, Mr. Hamilton, a respected 20-year member of the Kentucky Bar having an unblemished record, is innocent of all charges. Secondly, a few months ago, Mr. Hamilton, as any citizen would do under similar circumstances, upon receiving an unprovoked harassing communication sent to him by trooper Adams via social media, i.e. Facebook Messenger, reported the matter to Kentucky State Police command officials. This resulted in an understanding that Trooper Adams was not to have any contact with Mr. Hamilton. Despite this understanding, on November 4, 2018, Trooper Adams followed Mr. Hamilton’s vehicle. Mr. Hamilton drove to a welllit area. Trooper Adams tried to effect an arrest of Mr. Hamilton, but Trooper Adams very quickly backed off and stepped well away from Mr. Hamilton’s vehicle after Trooper Adams realized Mr. Hamilton was not alone, and when Mr. Hamilton showed Trooper Adams his cell phone indicating that Mr. Hamilton had dialed 911. The nature of the harassing communication was of a personal nature concerning another party having a mutual association with Mr. Hamilton and Trooper Adams. The facts of this matter clearly prove his innocence. Mr. Hamilton believes due process of the law will fully vindicate him.”