A man has been charged with getting into a fight with two Salem Police officers Monday before driving off in one of their patrol vehicles which was pursued more than 5 miles on Wallace Road NW before getting stuck in a farm field south of Zena Road.
Police responded to Taggart Drive NW and Wallace just before 1 p.m. Monday after a caller reported seeing a man shove another man. According to a probable cause statement, the victim told police the man stopped him and told him to take everything out of his pockets.
When Salem Police officers Benjamin Ruddell and Megan Rollins approached the man and told him he was not free to leave. The man replied, “Yes, I am” and took off on his bicycle. Police lost track of the victim after they began pursuing the other man.
Ruddell chased the man on foot a short distance and told him he was under arrest but was unable to stop him. Ruddell asked for backup.
Ruddell and Rollins soon located the man at the West Salem Post Office on Glen Creek Road NW. Police allege the man became combative, putting his fists up and challenging Ruddell to a fight.
Ruddell tried to detain the man, but he allegedly began throwing punches at Ruddell and hit the officer’s cheek.
Both officers used their tasers on the man, a baton, as well as pepper spray, with little to no effect, police wrote in the probable cause statement.
At one point the man fled on foot, but then circled back to Ruddell’s patrol car. He jumped inside and drove away, “rapidly accelerating” across Glen Creek Road NW and into the parking lot behind the Roth’s Fresh Market.
Officers lock their vehicles in all standard calls, according to Salem Police spokesperson Angie Hedrick. In this case, the officer was in active pursuit of the suspect “so in these quickly unfolding situations … officers are going to work quickly to get out of their vehicle to make that apprehension, which doesn’t allow time for them to secure their vehicles in those fast-moving circumstances.”
The man fled north on Wallace Road NW with the officers in pursuit. Ruddell said he heard an officer over the radio say the man was driving an estimated 80 to 95 miles per hour.
Additional responding officers said the man left the roadway and drove through an orchard and fields before getting the patrol car stuck in mud in a grass field near an access road off Wallace Road outside of the city.
The man ran from the vehicle, police alleged, but was arrested after a “short standoff.” He was taken to Polk County Jail and faces charges of faces attempted assault on a public safety officer, second-degree escape, resisting arrest, unauthorized use of a car, possession of a stolen car, reckless driving, first-degree criminal mischief and two counts of fleeing from police, court records show.
The Statesman Journal does not name charged individuals until they are arraigned. The man is scheduled for an arraignment Tuesday afternoon at Polk County Circuit Court.
The damage estimate to the patrol car is more than $5,000.
Polk County Sheriff’s office and Oregon State Police officials assisted Salem Police during the chase.