Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Man guilty of ramming patrol car

A fugitive who ran a Spokane Police patrol car off the road and ran over a police motorcycle was convicted Tuesday of eluding and two counts of assault.

Shappa Jay Baker, 27, was convicted of first-degree assault for ramming his Dodge Ram pickup into the driver-side door of Officer Robert Collins’ police car during a high-speed chase through Spokane last June.

The patrol car sustained heavy damage when it was pushed two feet sideways, over a 10-inch-tall curb. Collins was uninjured.

Baker also was charged with first-degree assault for running over Officer Ken Applewaite’s police motorcycle while Applewaite was directing other motorists away from the pursuit. But, in a non-jury trial that began Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza found Baker guilty of second-degree assault in connection with Applewaite.

Assistant Public Defender George Caplan said Cozza apparently wasn’t convinced that Baker intended to cause Applewaite “great bodily harm,” which is required for first-degree assault.

“There was a lot of contradictory testimony by the officers,” Caplan said.

According to court documents, Applewaite felt Baker was trying to kill him when he drove 60 mph across a yard while turning onto Wellesley Avenue at Driscoll Boulevard. Applewaite told investigators that Baker came straight at him, and looked him in the eye just before crushing Applewaite’s motorcycle.

Applewaite said Baker’s truck missed him by only two to three feet.

Police broke off the chase when it reached 95 mph on Seven Mile Road. Baker was arrested two days later, on June 18, in Great Falls, Mont.

The chase began about 4 p.m. June 16 when officers tried to arrest Baker at a home in the 700 block of West Maxwell Avenue. Baker was wanted on a state Department of Corrections escape warrant.

Caplan estimated Baker will face a standard range of 17 to 23 years in prison when Cozza sentences him on Feb. 25.