Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Friday, January 5, 2001

CORNYN ANNOUNCES DALLAS TEXAS EXILE SENTENCES

Convicted felons facing 110 and 99 1/2 years in federal prison

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn and Paul Coggins, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas today announced that Derrick Smith and Ternard Polk were sentenced in connection with the Texas Exile program. Smith received a 110-year sentence and Polk received a 99 1/2-year sentence. Smith and Polk are convicted felons who were involved in a bank robbery and shootout with Irving and Dallas police. Both sentences were handed down in federal district court in Dallas.

"Texas Exile is working and these sentences prove it. These criminals and the guns they carried are off the streets, making our communities safer,"said Attorney General Cornyn.

"I commend the prosecutor, Mike Gill, and the U.S. Attorney for their work on these cases."

Last June, Smith and Polk walked into an Irving bank, armed with a pistol and a long-barreled .44 magnum and robbed the bank. Smith was dressed in black and wore a ski mask. Polk wore a red windbreaker, baseball cap and sunglasses. They ordered customers and bank employees to lie on the ground and then forced one of the tellers to hand over money in their register drawer. Polk watched the lobby, while Smith threatened to kill the teller if she didn't turn over the money. After the robbery, they fled the scene.

Irving Police Officer John Lancaster saw Smith and Polk speed off and began pursuing them. When Smith and Polk got tied up in traffic, Smith got out of the car and tried to sneak up on officer Lancaster with the long-barreled .44 magnum .Officer Lancaster saw Smith, got out of his car, drew his weapon and became involved in a shootout with Smith in the middle of the road. Although several shots were fired between Officer Lancaster and Smith, neither of the men was injured. Following the shootout, Smith and Polk were able to escape.

Other officers, including the FBI, had been made aware of the robbery and the shootout and joined in the pursuit. As officers began chasing Smith and Polk, Smith leaned out of the car window and began firing shots with the .44 magnum. Smith and Polk were reaching speeds of up to 80 mph, running red lights and at times driving the wrong way down one-way streets.

Smith and Polk got on I-35 and headed south towards downtown Dallas. Members of the FBI Violent Crimes task force joined into the pursuit at Regal Row. The defendants' car reached speeds of up to 100 mph down the interstate, and along the way, they fired shots at three more Dallas police officers and at civilian vehicles on the road in an attempt to clear the way for their escape.

Smith and Polk then proceeded to I-45 where they ultimately exited to lead the officers on a chase in South Dallas residential neighborhoods. As two Dallas police officers rounded the corner in one of these neighborhoods, they found that the defendant's car was stopped, with Smith hanging out of the passenger window taking careful aim at them. Another dangerous gun battle ensued, where neither the officers nor the defendants were injured.

The pursuit lasted just a few miles more to Kiest Avenue, where the passenger Smith jumped out of the moving car, rolled on the ground and then got up to run from officers while carrying the black money bag. He ran across an open field to some houses located on the 2300 block of Skylark. Polk continued driving the car on Kiest. The pursuing officers then split up and pursued both suspects.

Officers ultimately found Smith hiding in a dog house behind a citizen's house with his feet sticking out. After placing Smith under arrest, the officers recovered the black bag from the bank robbery in an adjacent yard. The bag was filled with the money Smith and Polk had taken from the Chase Bank.

Around the same time, Polk was still driving his car down a residential street with a flat tire. He eventually ran the car over the median and was arrested. The .44 magnum, along with several live and spent rounds, was recovered from the car, along with several other pieces of evidence relating to the bank robbery.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, federal gun violation prosecutions in Texas increased nearly 60 percent over last year. The Office also reports that Texas leads the nation in prosecution of cases under federal gun laws.

To date, Texas Exile has resulted in 420 indictments, 212 convictions and over 850 guns have been confiscated.

To learn more about Texas Exile and how to get involved in public awareness efforts around the state, visit www.texasexile.com or visit the Attorney General's website at www.oag.state.tx.us.


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