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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Ron Van Tassel

Wild SPD chase ends with arrest, nap

It started with what appeared to be a drug-fueled joy ride in a stolen pickup truck. It ended with a nap.
 
Spokane police arrested Benjamin P. Aleto, 27, Tuesday night after they say he fled from Officer Ron Van Tassel through a north Spokane residential area, according to an affidavit. Aleto had a woman in his car, who later said she knew Aleto from high school, but couldn’t remember his first name.
 
Van Tassel was driving north on Napa Street when he saw Aleto driving a stolen Toyota pickup southbound, according to an affidavit. Aleto shifted into Van Tassel’s lane, traveling toward him at a high rate of speed, court documents say. Van Tassel flashed his lights, but Aleto didn’t slow or stop.
 
 At the last minute, Aleto turned west onto Boone Avenue, narrowly avoiding Van Tassel’s patrol car, police said. Van Tassel began chasing Aleto. The woman begged Aleto to let her out, but he refused, the documents say.
 
The chase finally ended at Columbus Street and Mission Ave; or at least, Van Tassel tried to end it. The officer performed a PIT maneuver, attempting to hit the back end of the truck to turn it around, according to the affidavit. Aleto didn’t stop, however. He attempted to drive in reverse on Mission. 
 
Van Tassel attempted another PIT maneuver, but his patrol car somehow became attached to the truck, according to the affidavit. Aleto continued to attempt to flee, dragging the patrol car about seven feet.
 
Aleto refused to exit his vehicle, instead staring ahead with a “crazed look on his face,” according to the affidavit. Van Tassel said he had to drag Aleto out of the vehicle in order to arrest him.
 
Aleto, who appeared to be high, then closed his eyes and went to sleep in the roadway, according to the affidavit.
 
Officers found methamphetamines and a glass pipe in the truck, as well as a key ring with shaved keys on it, according to the affidavit. The truck had been reported stolen Aug. 9, according to the affidavit.
 
No officers were injured, police said. Aleto suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital for treatment.
 
Aleto was booked into Spokane County Jail on charges of attempting to elude police, unlawful imprisonment, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and driving with a suspended license. His bond was set at $35,000. 
 

Man shot by police jailed on $10k bond

Jesse Johnson scratches his head as he lies with a bandaged thigh in a hospital bed on Monday at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. (SRphoto/Tyler Tjomsland)

A man who was shot by a Spokane police officer as he confronted another man with what turned out to be a BB gun will remain jailed on $10,000 bond.

 Jesse Hugh Johnson, 24, appeared before a judge on Friday on charges related to an incident early Sunday near North Napa Street and East Mission Avenue in which he was shot in the right leg by Spokane police Officer Ron Van Tassel.

Van Tassel (pictured) was responding to a report of a man armed with a shotgun when he saw Johnson pointing a weapon at Corey Hall-Cottrell, who is Johnson's former roommate.

Van Tassel, 31, shot Johnson “with the belief that if he did not act immediately Hall-Cottrell would be shot,” according to court documents.

Hall-Cottrell later showed police scars on his head and hand from where Johnson had shot him with a BB gun in the past, documents say.

Police noticed Johnson trying to hide something in his mouth while in the emergency room and discovered it was a bag of methamphetamine.

Johnson said in an interview Monday from his hospital bed that he intended to shoot the man with the BB gun because he believes the man stole two bicycles. But he said police overreacted when they shot him and should have known his weapon was only a BB gun.

He also said he never intended to report the thefts to police. He also said the meth was not his. He was released from the hospital to jail on Thursday.

In addition to a meth possession charge, police are asking prosecutors to charge Johnson with fourth-degree assault, reckless endangerment, intimidation with a weapon and aiming or discharging a dangerous weapon.

Bevy of drugs found in felon’s truck

A longtime Spokane felon who fought with police in a Browne's Addition grocery store parking lot last week had about three ounces of heroin in his vehicle, police said today.

Stephen Patrick Link, 46, pleaded not guilty today in Spokane County Superior Court to possession of methamphetamine, attempt to elude a police vehicle and two counts of third-degree assault for the May 21 incident with Sgt. Kurt Vigesaa and Officer Ron Van Tassel at Rosauers, 1800 W. 2nd Ave.

Police are requesting prosecutors charge Link with six additional drug felonies after a search of his Ford Ranger on Friday revealed the heroin, valued at $2,400, marijuana packaged for sale and four prescription drugs packaged for sale, as well as a scale and baggies.

Police also found two syringes loaded with suspected heroin.  Those drugs were found in addition to methamphetamine, more than $7,000 and 35 suspected stolen gift cards that were found on the ground next to Link the night of his arrest.

Police began pursuing Link after a homeowner in the 4800 block of North Oak Street reported a man sitting in a truck in front of his home smoking drugs. Vigesaa attempted to stop Link near North Ash Street and West Grace Avenue, but he fled and crossed the Maple Street Bridge into downtown.

Police used a PIT maneuver to stop the truck, and Link exited the vehicle and fought with Vigesaa, who said he nearly lost consciousness and didn't know what hit him after he was attacked by Link, according to court documents. Vigesaa was treated at a hospital for cut eye and a broken blood vessel. (Police released a photo of the injury today)

Link also kicked and punched Van Tassel and broke his watch, police say Backup officers arrived and Link was shocked with a Taser and taken to the ground before being handcuffed. (View a photo from the scene here.) He was taken to a hospital before being booked into jail.

Link is well known to drug detectives “who have worked previous cases involving him,” according to a news release by police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

Vigesaa and Van Tassel have returned to work, DeRuwe said.

“This situation illustrates not only the dangers of police work, but how officers work together to effectively apprehend and remove a criminal suspect from the streets of Spokane.”

Link remains in the Spokane County Jail.

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