11/06/2006

Calif. man slashes self at end of pursuit

By Hans Laetz, Correspondent
Ventura County Star

An Oxnard man facing the possibility of a third-strike offense led police on a chase Thursday from Ventura to Malibu and seriously injured himself with a knife when officers could not persuade him to surrender, authorities said.

After refusing officers' orders to leave his small pickup truck, which was penned in by armored vehicles in a Zuma Beach cul-de-sac, the man started slashing himself. SWAT officers fired into the windows to shatter them and dragged the bleeding man out of the vehicle.

Oxnard police said the man was hospitalized under a suicide watch Thursday night and asked that his identity not be revealed until relatives could be notified.

Police said they will seek a felony charge of fleeing a police officer.

The man already has been convicted of felony spousal abuse and evading charges, police said.

Ventura Police Lt. Doug Auldridge said two Ventura motorcycle officers tried to make a traffic stop on the pickup truck about 8 a.m. near Victoria Avenue and Highway 101.

The driver pulled into the parking lot of the La Quinta Inn on Valentine Road. As the officers approached, the driver pulled out of the lot and onto the highway, and a pursuit was on.

During the televised chase, which also involved California Highway Patrol units, police learned there was an outstanding felony warrant on the owner of the pickup, Auldridge said.

Oxnard police picked up the pursuit as the truck exited at Oxnard Boulevard, said Oxnard Cmdr. Scott Hebert. The chase reached 80 mph, police said, as the truck sped along Pacific Coast Highway.

"He never crossed the center line or ran a traffic light, but he was driving fast," Hebert said.

After running into heavier traffic near Malibu High School, the man turned up several side streets and ended up cornered in the 6400 block of Surfside Way, a dead-end street. Oxnard police pointed their guns at the truck and shouted instructions via loudspeaker.

"After that, he was talking to our sergeant over the cell phone and to his son," Hebert said, "but he refused to give up."

Los Angeles sheriff's deputies brought in three armored vehicles to block the pickup truck, and SWAT officers took up positions behind walls and in nearby houses.

That's when the man started to cut himself.

"We used a Taser to get him to stop the knifing, and then we dragged him out of the truck," Hebert said.

Paramedics immediately began lifesaving efforts.

The man was flown to UCLA Medical Center and was in serious but stable condition Thursday night, officers said.

— Staff writer John Mitchell contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 Ventura County Star
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