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Kentucky State Police: Theft suspect dies after assaulting officer, jumping in river

Kentucky State Police say Justin M. Hatfield of Delbarton died after assaulting an officer and then jumping in the river. (WCHS/WVAH)

Kentucky State Police said a suspect in a theft from a vehicle in Pike County died after the man assaulted a trooper and then jumped into a river.

Justin M. Hatfield of Delbarton passed away about 2:40 p.m. Thursday at Williamson Memorial Hospital where he was being treated for exposure to the elements, according to a news release from State Police.

The State Police Pikeville Post 09 opened an investigation after receiving a report about 6 a.m. Thursday about a theft from a vehicle in Aflex. An employee at Appalachian Tobacco reported a person broke into the worker’s vehicle and stole a purse and possibly other items.

When the trooper arrived at the store, he viewed security video and identified the suspect as Hatfield, State Police said. The news release said the trooper contacted Hatfield at his residence and discovered evidence he had taken the purse. State Police said the trooper was attempting to arrest the suspect when he assaulted the officer and a struggle ensued.

The news release said Hatfield ran over the riverbank and jumped into the river. For a short time, it was unclear whether the suspect made it across the river, and emergency personnel were called in to assist in the search.

Hatfield was found after a short search on railroad tracks on the West Virginia side of the river, State Police said. He died at the hospital.

The suspect’s body has been taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Frankfort for an autopsy.

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