A man was sentenced to more than four years in prison after he pleaded guilty on Wednesday to throwing a flaming gas can at a Spokane police officer last year.
Saul S. Durkee, 32, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault before Judge Charnelle M. Bjelkengren.
He was convicted this summer by a jury on two other counts, including possession of an incendiary and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. The assault charge he pleaded to on Wednesday was amended from first degree to second degree after a jury was unable to convict him on that charge, attorneys said.
Another charge for malicious mischief was also dismissed as part of his plea deal.
Durkee was arrested on July 6, 2021, in Spokane after he stole a Jeep in Kootenai County two days earlier. A police officer located the stolen Jeep near North Regal Street and East Augusta Avenue and pulled Durkee over, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The officer gave commands to Durkee to show his hands during the traffic stop. Durkee obeyed at first, but then he brought his hands back inside the Jeep and threw a flaming gas can that landed near where the police officer was standing, the document said.
Durkee fled from the police officer but was subdued shortly after, body camera footage showed.
In a statement to the courtroom, Durkee apologized for his actions and said he planned to seek mental health treatment.
He has dealt with mental health issues throughout his life, beginning with the loss of his father as a child, as well as the loss of two of his friends to drug overdoses, he said.
“I’ve been dealing with grief from a young age,” Durkee told the courtroom. “I acknowledge my actions were unprecedented. … I acknowledge my actions represented a danger to the community. … I never wanted my life to be like this.”
Durkee said he was provided with medication to treat his mental health issues when he was previously incarcerated, but said that he wanted to pursue therapy going forward.
“I think that shows great insight into your situation,” Bjelkengren told Durkee.
When Bjelkengren asked what he would do differently this time, Durkee said he intended to work with other people through “anonymous support groups.”
“I hope you can serve other people,” Bjelkengren told Durkee. “I hope when you are released you do seek therapy.”
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