Bail bondsman gets zapped, but recovers the missing woman

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Tribune photo by Karen Hall Bail bondsman Michael Farrar shows his arm after it was Tasered five days earlier as Farrar recaptured a Marshall County Jail inmate who walked away from a rehabilitation center on Second Avenue.

CORNERSVILLE -- A Lewisburg-based bail bondsman was shot in the arm with his own stun gun last week while apprehending the woman who in early March walked away from a drug rehabilitation center several blocks from the Marshall County Jail, where she's now held on an escape charge.

Michael Farrar, proprietor of Farrar Bail Bonding at Lewisburg's public square was shot at close range with two electrified darts, he said Thursday. One of the darts pierced an artery during his struggle with the escapee. Farrar was treated and released from Marshall Medical Center on he evening of March 25.

Bethany Brashears, 29, previously known as Bethany Thompson of Coleman Road, Cornersville, was recaptured by Farrar because her alleged escape from one of the Buffalo Valley houses on Second Avenue in Lewisburg would put her in violation of the terms of her contract with Farrar for a $10,500 bond on another charge, the bail bondsman explained on Thursday afternoon.

Farrar said the other charge was reckless endangerment for allegedly shooting William "Willie Joe" Howard Roell, 46, in the leg. According to Farrar, Roell is on bond, too, having been charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Brashears' escape warrant states that on Feb. 3 in Marshall County General Sessions Court she "was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days for fraudulent use of a credit card. On March 3... Brashears was furloughed to Buffalo Valley for 28 days of rehabilitation."

Then, on March 13, "Brashears unlawfully left Buffalo Valley and failed to return to the Marshall County Jail," according to the escape warrant issued by Circuit Court Clerk Elinor Brandon Foster on March 16.

Farrar knew to look for Brashears in Cornersville last week because she had been calling Lewisburg Police Detective James "Pugs" Johnson since leaving Buffalo Valley, according to the detective and the bondsman.

"I've known her for years," the detective said.

"I knew she was an escapee," Johnson said Friday during an interview in Police Chief Chuck Forbis' office. "I'd been in contact with her" by telephone while she was at-large.

"First, her lawyer called," Johnson said, naming the attorney as David McKenzie.

"She wanted to turn herself in," he continued. "I said, 'Tell me where you are and that's all there is to it.' I talked to her two or three times and she said she'd call back in five minutes and she never would do it."

Time passed and then one week ago today, County Jail Administrator Jason Williams "got a call from Brashears' grandmother who said she [Bethany] was there and was going to turn herself in," Johnson said.

Farrar had been asking Johnson about Brashears' whereabouts, so the detective called the bondsman to advise him of her location, according to the news interview with Forbis present.

Johnson also told Farrar of the escape charge on Brashears, Farrar said.

"I have a contract with her and her grandmother," the bondsman continued. "If I'm looking for you [someone who's on his bond] you're obliged to let me pursue you and search the house (given as the address for the defendant seeking bond)."

"They know I have the authority" under contract law, he explained.

Early last week, Farrar "did surveillance" on the grandmother's house with one of his agents and the grandmother asked them to leave, Farrar said.

They returned on the evening of March 25 with a Cornersville Police officer who waited on the sidewalk "in case there was a disturbance," Farrar said.

That was "when it all broke loose," he continued.

"Bethany rushed into a crawl space and I'm peeking around the corner to see her..."

Farrar got about half-way through the entrance to the attic of a small house behind Brashears's grandmother's home when "She pops my hand... [with something] and we tussle..."

"She was trying to take the Taser out of my hand and that's when she squeezed the trigger," Farrar said.

The bondsman's agent was outside the guest house, apparently looking for another way out of the attic, according to Farrar's explanation.

Tasers have two darts connected to 25-foot wires that carry the electrical charge to the target. Normally, they're shot about 15 feet away from a suspect. The burst of electricity may have been five to 10 seconds between barbs in Farrar's arm, Farrar said.

"When I fell out of the cubby hole, she fell out with me," he said. "By the time we were out, the Taser stopped.

"She was trying to get in the fetal position to avoid being handcuffed," he said.

Brashears was recaptured at about 8:30-8:45 p.m. one week ago tonight, Farrar said. She was back in the county jail at about 9:15 p.m. and by 9:30 p.m., Farrar was being treated in the Marshall Medical Center emergency room.

Brashears is now due in Sessions Court at 9 a.m. on April 21. She's to face Judge Steve Bowden, the man on the bench who sentenced her to split confinement in jail and the rehabilitation center.

She will be charged with escape, but could face other charges, including an assault charge described in a warrant issued by the circuit and sessions court clerk on information from Farrar about the "tussle" that resulted in the bondsman's injury, he said.