JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Just after midnight Dec. 4, a 22-mile police pursuit from Tusculum to Johnson City, Tenn. ended in the death of A Pearson, a completely uninvolved motorist.
A car driven by Christian Morrow and pursued by a Tusculum Police Department (TPD) officer and the TPD chief after Morrow passed the officer at 104 miles per hour lost control and crashed into Pearson’s car. Pearson died at the scene, while Morrow is in jail on other charges as an investigation into the accident that caused Pearson’s death continues.
With questions about the pursuit’s length and the reason it began in the first place, News Channel 11 began investigating. We interviewed policing experts including a renowned academic in the area of police pursuits.
We spoke to friends, co-workers, family members and a mentor of A Pearson to learn more about Pearson’s life that ended just months after college graduation.
And, we gathered records from across the state about pursuit deaths over the past year, collected pursuit policies from a number of area agencies and pored over state and national statistics.
The results include the above attached 12-minute documentary on the subject as well as three long-form articles — one about the life of A Pearson, one about the night of the chase and one about pursuit statistics, debate around the issue and more of the lives behind those statistics.
Our work also includes an interactive map with clickable locations for each of the 24 pursuit fatalities the Tennessee Highway Patrol has reported on since Jan. 1, 2021. Clicking into the pins (red for uninvolved victim fatalities, blue for passengers of the fleeing car fatalities and yellow for driver of the fleeing car fatalities) opens up additional information and material on each.
The Pearson family has established a scholarship fund in A’s honor at East Tennessee State University’s College of Arts and Sciences to benefit underrepresented students studying media, particularly film.
Contributions to the A. Pearson Fund can be made by mail at ETSU Foundation, PO Box 70721, Johnson City, TN 37614. They can also be made online at http://etsu.edu/give; select College of Arts & Sciences and note A. Pearson Fund.