Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Police dog helps take suspect into custody


Authorities used a police dog to take a 21-year-old Santa Barbara man into custody early Saturday morning after he fled from officers, hit a parked car and refused to obey orders.
Police initially responded to calls of a fight in the 600 block of W. Sola Street at 12:55 a.m., where witnesses reported hearing a gang name shouted and spotted a white, two-door vehicle leaving the scene, Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte of the Santa Barbara Police Department said.

“As the officers were responding, one officer ended up seeing a vehicle that fit the description traveling over the Micheltorena [Street] bridge,” he said.
The officer waited and watched as the car turned northbound on Castillo Street, heading the wrong way into one-way traffic, Sgt. Duarte said. As the officer continued to monitor the vehicle, it momentarily turned into a driveway halfway down the block before backing out and heading south.
“He noticed that the vehicle was a white Acura,” Sgt. Duarte said. “Then he saw the vehicle approach the light and slow down at Castillo and Micheltorena.”
The driver, later identified as Felix Antonio Betancourt, apparently spotted the officer in his marked K-9 unit squad car and accelerated southbound through the red light, according to police reports.
As the officer hit his emergency lights and attempted to pull the vehicle over, the driver continued to accelerate, reports show, allegedly reaching speeds of 70 to 80 miles per hour on the residential street.
The vehicle then turned left onto Victoria Street, Sgt. Duarte said. When the officer reached the street, he spotted the Acura pulling away after crashing into a parked car, authorities said.
After traveling another 100 yards, the car slowed to a stop, Sgt. Duarte said, having sustained major damage in the collision. Authorities ordered the driver to exit the vehicle, but he continued to reach back into the car, police said.
“After several commands to keep his hands out of his vehicle, the suspect continued not to comply,” Sgt. Duarte said. “The K-9 was released and actually ended up biting Betancourt in one of his legs.”
The suspect immediately fell to the ground, threw out his hands and was taken into custody without further incident, Sgt. Duarte said.
The arresting officers noted a moderate odor of alcohol on the suspect. During a DUI evaluation at the hospital, authorities noted Betancourt had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and was unsteady on his feet, according to reports.
After being treated for a dog bite — receiving two stitches to his thigh — Sgt. Duarte said the 21-year-old was booked in lieu of $75,000 bail for felony evading, hit-and-run causing property damage, DUI and resisting arrest.

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