A tense, firearm-related stalemate involving a Hamblen County deputy and an extremely uncooperative alleged drunken driver ended in violence Monday evening, but not in gunfire, according to authorities.
The defendant, 49-year-old Ronald Luther Helton Jr., sustained facial wounds during a fight with Deputy Chris Sanner, who held the defendant at gunpoint for an extended period of time, waiting on backup to arrive. The confrontation escalated before another deputy rolled up, according to an offense report.
At some point, Helton, who profanely refused to remove his right hand from a pocket, despite the fact that Sanner’s firearm was trained on him, opened his vehicle door. Sanner took the opportunity to douse the defendant with pepper spray, and then forcefully yank Helton to the ground, the offense report states.
Helton, who reportedly said repeatedly that “he was very drunk and had (consumed) a great deal of liquor,” initially said he wanted medical treatment, later changed his mind, stating, “Let’s go to jail and get this over with.” He’s charged with his second offense DUI, resisting and evading arrest, driving on a revoked or suspended license and driving left of the centerline.
The series of events that led to the physical confrontation began around 5:40 p.m. when deputies were alerted to be on the lookout for an impaired driver in a blue Dodge Neon on Cherokee Park Road. Sanner turned on his blue lights and siren when he spotted the compact car on Brights Pike.
Helton allegedly disregarded Sanner and continued to swerve wildly along the roadways – at abnormally low speed – until he reached his residence on Fall Creek Dock Road in Russellville. Then began the barrage of profanity.
The defendant “immediately placed his right hand in his jacket as to pull a firearm,” the offense report states.
Realizing that Helton was in mortal danger, his family members came outside and pleaded with him to show his hands and surrender, according to Sanner, who reported Helton submitted to a blood draw at the hospital.