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Highway Police Chief injured in Maumelle incident

The chief of the Arkansas Highway Police, Ronnie Burks, 57, of Maumelle was injured in an incident at the Kroger fuel pumps on Sunday.

Burks told Maumelle officers he was getting gas at the pumps early Sunday morning when he saw a Toyota FJ Cruiser sitting near a pump with the driver asleep behind the wheel with the car running.

He said he awakened the driver and identified himself as a law enforcement officer and reported he wanted to check on the driver’s welfare. But when he spoke to the man Burks said he told him he shouldn’t be driving and appeared intoxicated. When the driver, James Hayden Bretell, 20, of Conway refused to acknowledge him, Burks said he reached into the vehicle in an attempt to remove the keys so the man couldn’t drive.

But when he did so the man sped off with Burks arm inside his vehicle.

Police said Burks suffered lacerations on his left hand when the man sped off.

Burks had called Maumelle police before approaching the man and officers arrived as Bretell sped off and they chased him to the Bank of the Ozarks parking lot where they got him stopped.

Officer Glyneth Hicks said when she stopped Bretell he told her he had been robbed the night before at the Visions strip club just outside Maumelle near Morgan on Bicentennial Road. He said his billfold was taken but he didn’t file a police report with the sheriff’s office about it.

He said when Burks reached into his vehicle he was scared and took off.

Hicks said Bretell was charged with fleeing and third degree battery processed at police headquarters and released with a June 19 court date.

Officer Andrew Garner who also responded to the call said he had the man perform a portion of the field sobriety test and he showed no signs of being intoxicated.

A former long-time North Little Rock police officer and a training officer, Burks became the chief of the highway police in the 1990s.

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