Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"Rose, I'm so sorry. I didn't know it was you. I was drunk."

The following happened last week in Taylorsville, Utah:

Sgt. Rosie Rivera of the Taylorsville PD was at an intersection when a vehicle ran a red light and nearly caused a collision. Rivera attempted to pull over the vehicle but the suspect fled. A pursuit began but was called off immediately by the other sergeant on duty. Currently, the department only pursues motorists suspected of a felony.

The rest is quoted from the Desert Morning News:

Just as Rivera turned off her red and blue lights, the other vehicle that was almost hit sped past her and went after the first vehicle. The next thing Rivera knew, both cars had turned around and were headed right back at her.

"I threw it in reverse because the suspect was trying to hit me," she said.

Rivera, who was involved in high-speed chases when she was a member of the Salt Lake Metro Gang Unit, drove for about a block in reverse before she was able to flip the car around. The other two vehicles sped past her down a street that led to a circle on a residential street. There, the first vehicle rammed the pursuing vehicle's car twice, Rivera said. That aggravated assault, a felony crime, was enough to get police involved in the chase again.

When asked later what he was doing, the driver of the second car told police he was trying to help officers. Rivera said citizens should never get involved in a police pursuit.

As the motorist flipped his car around in the circle, Rivera said, he went after her car again, forcing her to once again drive in reverse and making other maneuvers to avoid him.

"Everywhere I turn, he turns. I'm pursuing this guy but he's the one following me," she said. "I thought, 'This guy must be really dangerous if he is trying to hit a police officer with lights and sirens.' I didn't know if he was armed, wanted or intoxicated. I knew we had to get this guy off the street."

As backup officers arrived, the driver twice tried to hit other officers. In one incident, he clipped the hand of an officer who was outside his car trying to lay tire spikes on the road, Rivera said.

Finally, two patrol cars were able to ram the man's vehicle, bringing him to a stop. The man got out of his car screaming "Shoot me," Rivera said. Instead, officers used a Taser and were able to arrest him.

But there were still more surprises in store as the driver then recognized Rivera.

"He said, 'Rosie, I'm so sorry. I didn't know it was you. I was drunk,"' she said.

Rivera had mentored the man many years ago in junior high school before he got in trouble with the law and eventually was sent to prison.

The car the man was driving is believed stolen. He was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of numerous charges including four counts of aggravated assault against a police officer, two counts of aggravated assault against citizens, DUI, fleeing and possession of a stolen vehicle.

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