TUPELO • An Iowa man who attacked Verona police and months later led Tupelo police on a high speed chase that ended with a wreck and a $500,000 lawsuit pleaded guilty in Lee County Circuit Court.
In October 2017, Verona police responded to a Holloway Street residence for a domestic dispute. Bart Franks, 33, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, was arrested and taken to the police station, where he said he needed medical attention. He pulled out a knife and slashed the arm of a medic, then head-butted an officer before he was detained.
He was out on bond in January 2018 and driving a stolen 2005 Chevrolet pickup near the Mall at Barnes Crossing when a Tupelo police officer spotted him. Franks sped south on Gloster Street, hitting one car in front of the Sonic Drive-In.
Franks later crashed into a mail truck when he ran the red light at Lakeshire Drive and was captured. Franks, who has remained in the Lee County Jail since that arrest, was initially charged with felony fleeing, felony taking of a motor vehicle and simple assault on a law enforcement officer.
As part of a plea agreement last month, Franks pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault and felony taking of a motor vehicle. For the assault, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison with 11 suspended. He will also have to serve 5 years probation and pay court costs and restitution. For stealing the truck, he was given 3 years. The sentences will run consecutively, so he will serve a total of 12 years.
Donna Brooks was driving the mail truck. She said she suffered multiple serious and disabling injuries including scarring and disfigurement. In July 2018, she filed a civil suit against Franks, State Farm Insurance, the city of Tupelo and unnamed officers. Citing medical bills, loss of earning, mental anguish and a loss of quality of life, the lawsuit says she is owed “a reasonable amount of restitution and compensation for damages not to exceed the sum of $500,000.”
That case is still pending in Lee County Circuit Court. Tupelo filed a motion for summary judgment last October. A hearing on the motion was held in late May but Judge John White has not issued a ruling. No trial date has been set.