Memphis man charged after encounter with suspected drunk driver

By Jason Miles - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Thurstle Mullen and his wife Helen Holiday are wondering how a seemingly good deed ended so badly.

"It was very alarming to me that my husband was trying to be a Good Samaritan, and be arrested,"  Holiday said Tuesday.

Mullen was charged Monday with three misdemeanors, including assault, after he confronted a suspected drunk driver.

"The only regret I have is not stopping him sooner," Mullen said.

Mullen claims he followed the man for more than 20 minutes beginning along a stretch of I-40 near Whitten Road.  That's where he claims the man struck the concrete divider.

"And he was just obviously drunk," Mullen said.

Mullen dialed 911 and continued to pursue the driver while he spoke with an operator the entire time.

"Begging them to stop this guy before he kills somebody," says Mullen.

Mullen said things finally came to an end as they approached a crosswalk in front of Kirby Middle School in Hickory Hill. There, he said, a guard and two children were in the crosswalk when the suspected drunk driver slammed on his breaks.

"I thought he was going to kill those kids," Mullen said.

Mullen blocked the driver using his red Honda.  Then, he removed the man from the driver's seat by placing him a headlock.

"When I let go of him, he nose-dived into the pavement," Mullen said. "He didn't even attempt to catch himself. He was definitely, definitely wasted."

But at least one witness told police Mullen struck the man.  That explains the assault charge.

"I can guarantee he didn't hit that guy," Holiday said.

Despite the words of one officer, Mullen says he'd step in again if he felt lives were in danger.

"He said, 'I don't disagree with what you did, but there's a fine line, and you crossed that line when you laid your hands on the man'," Mullen said.

Police arrested the other driver after they say he refused a blood alcohol test.  Mullen and his wife would like for charges against him to be dropped.

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