Driver admits guilt in police pursuit case

Posted 6/7/23

The question was “Why?”

Richard Russell Kemp didn’t have much of an answer for Jefferson County Superior Court Brandon Mack during a change-of-plea hearing Friday.

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Driver admits guilt in police pursuit case


The question was “Why?”

Richard Russell Kemp didn’t have much of an answer for Jefferson County Superior Court Brandon Mack during a change-of-plea hearing Friday.

Facing a felony charge of attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle, Kemp admitted his guilt in the April 3 incident where he tried to outrun officers during a rainy then snowy early morning on roads around Port Hadlock.

After Kemp changed his plea to guilty, the judge asked why Kemp, 39, of Hoodsport, didn’t pull over the first time a deputy tried to stop him.

Kemp said he’d been having issues in his marriage.

“I made a foolish decision and kept going. It was very, very stupid of me to do. I don’t know why I did it,” Kemp said.

Kemp was driving his mother’s Subaru Outback, according to court records, when a deputy on Center Road saw the Subaru headed in the other direction just after 7 a.m. April 3. The car was going 77 mph in a 55-mph zone, and the officer noted it was raining heavily with a rain/snow mix, with standing water on the roadway.

After the officer activated the patrol car’s emergency lights, the driver of the Subaru sped up to
85 mph.

A pursuit along Center Road ensued, with the Subaru going more than 100 mph.

The deputy broke off the pursuit, but the speeding Subaru was soon sighted going through the Center Road/Beaver Valley Road intersection without stopping.

Officers continued to search for the driver in the Port Hadlock-Irondale area, and soon found the Subaru on Irondale Road, where the driver then sped away, eventually fleeing north on Highway 20 at 80 to 90 mph.

As the Subaru approached the Highway 20/Prospect Avenue intersection, a deputy saw the driver, later identified as Kemp, use the entire intersection to make a 180-degree U-turn, cutting off other drivers, as Kemp turned back toward Port Hadlock.

Kemp was found around
7:30 a.m. after dispatchers were called by a witness who said the fleeing driver had parked the Subaru at the Cenex Farm & Home Store and was walking toward the Chimacum Café.

As he was detained for eluding a pursuing police officer Kemp told the deputy he didn’t stop because he was an “idiot and didn’t know what to do.”

Dispatchers reported that Kemp was wanted on a felony no-bail warrant for unlawful imprisonment-domestic violence and first-degree mischief in Mason County.

During the defendant’s appearance Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court, Deputy Prosecutor Chris Ashcraft said Kemp was facing a standard sentencing range of up to 90 days in jail.

Scott Charlton, Kemp’s attorney, said Kemp has wanted to take responsibility for his actions from the start. Charlton asked the judge to accept the state’s recommendation for time served.

The judge said he would follow the recommendation, which would see Kemp given four days in jail but released with credit for time already served. He was also ordered to pay a mandatory $500 victim assessment fee.

Mack said he would agree to the recommendation, but with “a little bit of hesitancy.”

Eluding police officers was becoming a little too common these days, the judge said, where people don’t feel the need to pull over when the emergency lights go on.

“If it happens again the court won’t be quite so generous,” Mack told Kemp.

“At the time I didn’t have a whole lot going on in my head,” Kemp said. “After reflection, if I had hurt someone, I don’t know how I would live with myself for something so foolish.”