Police & Fire

Suspect chased and arrested after smashing into patrol car

Posted on December 20th, 2021 By:

A 25-year-old Gig Harbor man is in Pierce County Jail after crashing into a police car and leading officers on a chase that ended when his car caught fire and went over an embankment.

Shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, a Gig Harbor Police officer was patrolling the area around Olympic Village Shopping Mall when he spotted a suspicious vehicle outside a store. A records check showed that it was stolen, according to a statement on the department’s Facebook site.

The officer tried to make a traffic stop as the vehicle was leaving the parking lot, but it recklessly sped away. The officer wasn’t allowed to pursue it because of recent changes in the law, according to the report. RCW 10.116.060 states that an officer can’t pursue unless there is probable cause to believe that a person in the vehicle has committed or is committing a violent offense or sex offense and in a few other situations.

The fleeing vehicle swung wide into the oncoming lane of Olympic Drive and smacked the patrol car of another officer who happened to be driving by and was unaware of the incident. It then raced back into the parking lot and out another exit.

Now that the situation had escalated to a vehicular assault, the officers could give chase.

The suspect led them east on Hollycroft Street before briefly becoming airborne as he turned onto Reid Road. He darted into a neighborhood, through a front yard and turned around. The pursuit continued briefly until the suspect’s vehicle started smoking, erupted in fire, continued through another yard and went over a bank and into a ravine, according to the report.

The driver bailed and escaped into thick brush. A police dog was called to the scene and tracked him to a trailer in a nearby yard. Surrounded by officers, the suspect surrendered.

The 25-year-old was booked into jail on suspicion of vehicular assault, hit and run, eluding a police vehicle, second-degree burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle, obstructing a public servant and a no-bail felony warrant issued by the Department of Corrections.

The officer in the vehicle that was struck sustained minor injuries and was treated at a local hospital.