Police say a man wearing a shiny crown led officers on a chase Wednesday night through residential areas of Santa Fe’s south side, where he nearly struck a patrol car before fleeing recklessly at high speeds toward Interstate 25.

The man, who has not been identified, was driving a white GMC Sierra extended-cab pickup and had a passenger, according to a Santa Fe police report. The pickup is registered to a Rio Rancho resident, the report said, but Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies were unable to find the owner or the vehicle.

The incident began when Officer Nick Chavez attempted to pull over the pickup on southbound Cerrillos Road, near Zafarano Drive, after noticing that a large chain hanging out of the truck’s bed was hitting the pavement, creating amber sparks and kicking up debris.

The driver did not stop for a half-mile, near the intersection of Wagon and Emblem roads, Chavez wrote in his report.

As Chavez walked toward the passenger side of the truck, he wrote, “The driver of the vehicle suddenly placed the vehicle into drive and accelerated at a high rate of speed to the point where the vehicle lost traction on the rear tires.”

The man drove into what Chavez described as a poorly lit residential area with narrow dirt roads. The officer said he stopped pursuing the truck, pulled off to the side of the road and turned off his vehicle’s lights and sirens. Although he could hear a truck engine revving in the distance, he said in the report, he could not see the vehicle.

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The truck then came around a long curve, Chavez wrote, and he believed the driver was intentionally heading straight toward him at a high rate of speed.

“I felt I had no other option than to quickly exit my patrol unit and unholster my department issued Glock 22 firearm,” Chavez wrote.

He pointed his gun at the driver’s side of the truck windshield and began yelling for the driver to stop, but instead the driver veered to the left and just missed hitting the passenger-side door of Chavez’s vehicle, the officer’s report said, and Chavez did not fire his weapon.

Officers Alexander Durham and David Gallegos then spotted the pickup near Cerrillos and Wagon roads, according to the report, and began pursuing it.

The truck nearly caused a crash at Cerrillos Road and Herrera Drive near the Walmart store and headed toward I-25, the report said, and was traveling over 100 mph when it got onto the southbound on-ramp to the highway.

Sgt. Jeremy Bisagna called off the pursuit just before 8 p.m., saying the driver was becoming increasingly reckless and endangering motorists, according to the report.

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(4) comments

Joe Preston

A big thank you to Officer Chavez for trying to pull over this traffic violator. Too many instances of drivers speeding through red traffic signals as well as other infractions putting the citizens of Santa Fe at risk.

Chris Mechels

A mixed performance by SFPD. As related, Officer Chavez complied with SFPD pursuit policy and the Safe Pursuit Act, up to a point. When he pulled his Glock, he violated the SFPD Use of Force policy, and he should be disciplined. If as described, the vehicle was coming his way, he should move out of the way, as we would. But then, we don't have Glock, so we do the obvious. Too often officers, like Chavez, react wrongly under pressure, as he did. Having a Glock its tempting to point it at folks, when you get angry or scared. They do it a lot, far too much in fact, and should be disciplined, as it creates a very dangerous situation. Our media should be more critical in such cases, not sympathetic to the cop, who was wrong. The good news, he didn't fire, even though he was likely scared and angry.

Chris Mechels

In case someone out there cares; at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6002024-Santa-Fe-PD-Requested-SOPs.html you can find the SFPF Use of Force policy. At page 10 of that policy, you will find the policy that covers this case. Chavez was clearly wrong, and needs to be retrained on this policy and disciplined.

Dan Frazier

I love living in South Santa Fe! It is like living in the midst of a Mad Max movie, but with real bullets! Never a dull moment!

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