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Police director initiates suspect chase, capture

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(Source: Nick Kenney / WMC Action News 5) (Source: Nick Kenney / WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC) - On most days, Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong is running the department from the 12th floor at 201 Poplar. But on Friday, he suddenly found himself back on patrol.

A chase ended in a mid-day traffic jam on Highway 385 near Winchester Road. It was initiated by Armstrong, who had just left a TACT unit graduation at MPD's training facility.

"It's been a pretty interesting day," he said. "I can only imagine being an officer and listening to the radio and listening to the director asking for additional cars."

Armstrong stopped at Jack Pirtle's Chicken for lunch, but he didn't get the chance to order.

"While I was pulling onto the lot, saw a guy armed with a pistol and I didn't know if he was actually in a shootout with somebody else but he was running from one location to the next," explained Armstrong.

When the man with a gun jumped into a tractor-trailer and took off, the police director followed in his unmarked MPD SUV.

He called for back up and stuck with the chase that did not end for 22 miles.

"We never exceeded the speed limit," Armstrong said. "We changed lanes quite frequently but he wasn't driving erratic. Never got to the point where he was reckless or anything."

Armstrong's last enforcement duty was years ago when he worked in the homicide bureau.

"It's been a while," he added. "It's kinda interesting. Got the adrenaline going a little bit."

He says he's not rusty, he just reacted, but if his reaction sends a message then -- so be it.

"We're going to continue to be professional. I have to set an example. I'm going do that. I don't get to do it at this level very often, but I'm going to that. Certainly today if this can serve as an example of that then I'm glad," Armstrong said.

Investigators believe the driver may suffer from a mental illness.

Armstrong say he will be evaluated and will face criminal charges.

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