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Man on run after local high speed chase was charged in murder of deputy in 2006

By Walter Geiger A Macon man who is on the run after a high-speed chase here on Dec. 4 was one of five people arrested after the murder of Bibb County deputy Joseph Whitehead on March 23, 2006. Whitehead was shot and killed as he and other officers served a no-knock warrant at an alleged drug house in Macon. Thomas Mason Porter was among those arrested. He later went to prison for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in the aftermath of the shooting and was released on parole on September 24, 2010. Porter now faces more prison time after the chase which began on I-75 at about 4:15 p.m. Sgt. Anthony Thompson and Dep. Hunter Hemphill were working the interstate as a two-man patrol when they spotted a white 2018 Dodge Charger weaving across the fog line of the southbound lane and stopped it. Porter, 32, was the driver. ******************** NOTICE: This story and photo are under copyright. They may not be republished or disseminated in any form – including social media – without explicit permission. ********************* He had his license in his trembling hand outside the driver’s window when Sgt. Thompson approached. Thompson thought he smelled marijuana as he approached but the smell was quickly overcome by the smell of a burrito on the console and an air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror. Porter was told of the reason for the stop and asked if he had been drinking. He said he was coming from Southlake Mall and the Charger had been rented by his ‘baby mama’. Thompson went to the front of his vehicle to check Porter’s license and Hemphill noted he also could smell marijuana in the vehicle. When he went back to the driver, Thompson noticed a blunt wrapper and Porter said he smoked them but had no marijuana in the car. Porter denied permission to search the Charger and Thompson asked him to step out of the car so a K9 could be deployed for a free air search. Porter refused, reaching for the floorboard beneath him. Hemphill came to Thompson’s aid and, when he opened the door, Porter sped off. The deputies pursued him and the chase reached speeds in excess of 100 mph. Porter veered off the interstate at Johnstonville Road at the last second. Thompson could not make the turn and went up the opposite on ramp instead. At the top, he found the Charger wrecked. A bystander reported the driver had fled into the woods. Tracking dogs from Monroe County were called in but could not locate Porter. A search of the vehicle turned up 11 pounds marijuana in vacuum-sealed bags. Also found were cereal and gummy bears laced with THC oil. On the floorboard where Porter had been reaching was a black Smith & Wesson handgun which had been stolen in Atlanta. Porter is still on the loose. He faces charges of trafficking in marijuana, possession of a Schedule I controlled substance, theft by receiving stolen property, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, fleeing and attempting to elude, reckless driving and failure to maintain lane. In the 2006 incident, Whitehead was shot in the head as he broke down the door of the drug house. Sheriff Brad White and Whitehead had attended police mandate school together. ‘He was my buddy,’ the sheriff said. The others arrested at the drug house were Antron Fair, Damon Jolly, Cynthia Green and Hassan Harclerode. Testimony revealed both Fair and Jolly fired shots during the raid. They claimed they did not realize they were shooting at deputies. After multiple delays that spanned six years, Fair entered a guilty plea and got life with possibility of parole. Jolly also entered a plea and got life with the possibility of parole after 14 years. Charges against Green were dropped. It is unclear if Porter and Harclerode were ever prosecuted for Whitehead’s death. Fair remains incarcerated at Hancock State Prison. Jolly is serving his time at Smith State Prison. Harclerode did a prison stint for obstruction and possession of marijuana prior to the shooting. He was paroled in 2001 on those charges. The U.S. Marshal’s fugitive squad is heading up the ongoing search for Porter.

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