Several vehicles struck during incident
A police chase that began after a vehicle fled during a traffic stop in northern Platte County ended with the suspect being found in a tree in Clay County.
Joshua Joplin, 36, of Bates City, was taken into custody at the end of the incident, after officers convinced him to climb down from the tree. He has now been charged with felony assault in the second degree (special victim–police officer), another felony count of assault in the second degree, a felony count of resisting arrest by fleeing/creating a substantial risk of serious injury or death, and a misdemeanor assault.
He is being held in the Platte County Jail on a $250,000 cash-only bond.
The chase began after Joplin fled during a traffic stop for no truck or trailer license plates on a GMC four-door pickup at Hwy. 92 and Interurban Road around 3:45 p.m. Tuesday. Authorities say Joplin, driving the pickup pulling a flat bed trailer, fled the scene.
The GMC truck accelerated to speeds in excess of 90 mph in a 45 mph zone, authorities say. Platte County deputies observed a school bus with its red stop lights and stop arm activated on Interurban Road just north of Jowler Creek Road. Deputies say they decreased speed when they observed the school bus. The truck passed the school bus on the left and struck a seven-year-old male across the abdomen with the trailer it was towing, according to court documents. The child was later located and checked on. He sustained scratches to his abdomen from the strike, authorities say.
The GMC truck continued north and drove through the intersection of E Hwy. and Interurban, a 25 mph zone, without stopping. Deputies pursued to the area of Hwy. 371 and North American Road, where a deputy was attempting to set up spike strips. Authorities say Joplin purposefully avoided the spike strips and while steering away from the spikes, his truck struck the front passenger headlight assembly of the deputy’s marked patrol car.
Authorities say the truck continued to then travel south on Elm Grove Road. The chief of police of Tracy was sitting stationary on Elm Grove Road to the east of I-29 in a fully marked patrol car. The chief was outside of his vehicle and had placed spike strips on the road in order to stop the GMC. According to authorities, as the GMC truck approached the chief’s car, the driver of the GMC drove directly into the front driver’s side of the Tracy police car. After the impact, the patrol car struck the police chief and threw him about 12 feet back, where he landed on the asphalt.
Major Erik Holland of the Platte County Sheriff’s Department described the injuries to the Tracy officer as non-life threatening. Holland did not immediately release the injured officer’s name, but the probable cause statement refers to the injured officer as the Tracy police chief, who is Frank Thurman.
The probable cause statement filed with the court says the Tracy chief suffered two broken wrists and a lacerated finger, and that the chief will require surgery for his injuries.
The pursuit continued with the driver heading eastbound on Hwy. 92. While on Hwy. 92 in Platte City, the truck struck around three vehicles, authorities say.
The driver headed south on I-29, traveling south in the northbound lane. He continued onto I-435. Once on I-435 the GMC drove the wrong way in heavy traffic, authorities say, traveling at about 90 mph in a 70 mph zone.
The GMC struck a Chevy Malibu at I-435 and Cookingham, causing the Malibu to spin out of control and roll over. The driver of the Malibu was injured, with apparent broken bones, lacerations and bruising, according to court documents.
The GMC crashed on I-435 south of Cookingham in Clay County, and authorities say the suspect, later identified as Joplin, ran into the wooded area along the interstate and climbed a large tree before eventually being taken into custody.
According to court documents, one law officer noted that “Joplin appeared to be under the influence, and began to vomit multiple times,” and that the suspect “appeared to be delusional.”
The interior of the GMC truck had “the odor of marijuana,” according to court documents.
Holland said the suspect was on parole with the Missouri Department of Corrections and had a warrant for forgery out of Clay County.