Officer tumbles into ravine in chase

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Pine Hill Police Officer Marvin Bryant thought he was helping a few stranded motorists fill up a tank of gas. Instead, Bryant’s civic duty landed him in a 25-foot ravine with a gun pulled on a fleeing suspect.

According to Pine Hill Police Chief John Brown, three motorists flagged Bryant down in the early morning hours Monday. Standing in the parking lot of Pine Forest Motel, the motorists said they were out of gas.

It turned out two of the three had given Bryant false information. However, Bryant agreed to take the truthful motorist to Thomasville to purchase some gas.

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A few gallons later, Bryant and the motorist returned to Pine Hill to find the other two motorists waiting patiently by the car. That patience didn’t last long, though.

Norman Nettles, one of the motorists who gave Bryant false information, was questioned about his identification.

Instead, Nettles ran across the highway and Bryant began to chase him. What neither Bryant nor Nettles apparently knew was that Highway 5 has a "low shoulder" across the street from Pine Forrest Hotel.

Just before his foot chase, Bryant had put out a call to local law enforcement agencies, and responding were enough officers to stop the tiny town of Pine Hill. Marengo County Sheriff’s deputies Ricky Hall and Johnny Garner responded to the call. So did members of the Thomasville Police Department, the Linden Police Department, the Camden Police Department, the Wilcox County Sheriff’s Department and of course the Pine Hill Police Department.

Before any of the supporting officers or deputies could arrive, Bryant found himself in a struggle for his life at the bottom of the ravine off Highway 5.

With his life in danger, Bryant pulled his department-issued Glock 40 and shot Nettles in the shoulder.

According to a spokesperson at USA, Nettles is listed in good condition, which means the patient is not in a life-threatening situation.

As for Bryant, the fall into the ravine could have been a lot worse.

Bryant has worked with the Pine Hill Police Department since 1991, and the police chief said he is pleased with the way the case was handled.

Even though the case seems cut-and-dry, Brown said Bryant has been placed on administrative leave for a couple of days. In most police departments, when a police officer is involved in a shooting, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation looks into the case. Brown said that will happen in the case of Bryant and Nettles.

Dorris Teague, spokeswoman for the ABI, confirmed that her department is investigating the case.

Teague could not speculate on how long the investigation would last, but said a completed report would be turned in to the district attorney.

As for Nettles, Chief Brown said charges have not been filed yet because the suspect is in the hospital.