Arkansas sheriff's deputy dies after vehicle pursuit ends in crash; suspect says he 'panicked'

From left, Timothy Braden is shown in this undated photo released by the Little Rock Police Department on Twitter; 23-year-old Samuel Vincent of Monticello has been arrested.
From left, Timothy Braden is shown in this undated photo released by the Little Rock Police Department on Twitter; 23-year-old Samuel Vincent of Monticello has been arrested.

An Arkansas man said he “panicked" because of marijuana evidence in his possession before leading law enforcement on a high-speed pursuit that resulted in the death of a sheriff’s deputy, according to authorities.

Arkansas State Police said Drew County Deputy Timothy Braden, 29, tried to pull over a vehicle shortly after 1:30 a.m.

Braden called dispatch at the Monticello Police Department, initially reporting that he was attempting to stop a Dodge Charger. He later advised that the driver, identified by authorities as 23-year-old Samuel Vincent of Monticello, "refused to stop and was fleeing."

The pursuit lasted about 4 miles, with Braden and Vincent traveling at a "high speed" on Barkada Road, according to the affidavit.

At one point, Vincent turned onto Wells Lane, where he drove into the yard of a residence and then backed out onto Barkada Road outside Monticello, the sheriff’s office said.

A preliminary report from state police states that both westbound drivers "simultaneously lost control" of their vehicles, causing them to leave the road and strike a tree as well as a power pole.

Braden's vehicle came to a rest facing north, while Vincent's vehicle came to a rest facing east.

A second deputy arrived on scene a short time later, noting that Braden, who had not gotten out of his vehicle, was unresponsive, the affidavit states.

Both drivers were taken to Drew Memorial Hospital in Monticello, where Braden was pronounced dead at 3 a.m., authorities said. The deputy’s body will be sent to the state Crime Laboratory in Little Rock for an autopsy.

The extent of Vincent's injuries wasn't immediately clear.

Inside Vincent’s car, authorities found a camouflage bag containing suspected marijuana as well as $3,980 in cash and a set of digital scales. His backpack yielded $129 in cash and a folding knife.

Vincent was taken into custody at the scene on charges of first-degree murder, fleeing, possession of marijuana with the purpose to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Records show Vincent was booked into the Ashley County jail at 6:27 a.m. on the authority of the prosecuting attorney.

Vincent's bail was set at $200,000 Thursday afternoon. He is set to appear in court Sept. 18 for arraignment.

Vincent told a special agent with state police around 4:40 a.m. that he was traveling home for the night when blue lights came on behind him. That prompted him to then try to get away because “he had been smoking marijuana that night and there was marijuana in the car,” Vincent said.

When asked if he threw anything out of the vehicle during the pursuit, Vincent reportedly then requested an attorney.

In a statement, the Drew County sheriff's office announced Braden's death "with a heavy heart" and said he is survived by a wife and four children.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Braden family during this very difficult time," the statement said.

The McGehee Police Department said in a Facebook post that Braden spent more than three years with that agency.

"He was family to us," the statement said.

Investigations of the crash and pursuit are continuing, police said.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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Arkansas Online senior editor Gavin Lesnick contributed to this story.

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