16-year-old driver in custody after fleeing, leading West Valley City police in high-speed pursuit

A juvenile is in custody after fleeing a traffic stop and leading West Valley City Police on a chase late Tuesday night, Nov. 19, 2019. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah, Nov. 20, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — A juvenile is in custody early Wednesday morning after leading police on a chase so erratic, the officers terminated the pursuit at one point so no one would get hurt.

Lt. Bill Merritt, with the West Valley City Police Department, said the incident began late Tuesday night, when a couple of detectives were following up on a case, and they made a traffic stop they believed might be related to it.

“As they made their traffic stop, identified the driver, they started to return to their vehicle to run the driver’s information, and the driver decided to take off,” Merritt said. “There was a pursuit that lasted a few minutes, through all sorts of city streets, and they decided to terminate that pursuit after they had spiked one of the tires but lost visual contact with the car.”

Merritt said multiple agencies responded to assist in locating the suspect, and West Valley City officers brought in their K-9 unit to scour the area.

“We didn’t find the car at first, but after about 20 minutes of looking through the neighborhood, we did find it abandoned,” he said. “So we figured the suspect might still be in the area.

“We found a home that also was abandoned, so they decided to do some callouts from there, and the suspect was located inside that home.”

Merritt said the suspect, who is 16 years old, has “a little bit of a record already, so we’re glad that he’s in custody. It makes the streets a lot safer that way.”

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The youth was taken into custody without incident and will be facing a charge of fleeing, which is a felony.

Merritt emphasized that the police take fleeing very seriously because it’s dangerous not only for the suspect, but for the officers and any bystanders in the area. He said safety is a factor that’s taken into consideration whenever there’s a pursuit.

“At one point, we did actually terminate the pursuit, but that was prior to being able to spike some tires on the car, because at that point we knew the car wasn’t going to get very far.”

The suspect was booked into detention and Merritt said charges will probably be screened against the teen within the next 24 hours or so.

“What’s unfortunate is he’s looking at some serious charges, and they are going to follow him,” Merritt said.

The car belongs to the suspect’s mother, who was on scene and aware that her son was being arrested.

The youth was alone in the car, so there are no other suspects, and nothing was damaged except the tire that got spiked.

Merritt expressed gratitude to the other law enforcement agencies that came out to help, and to the public for staying back and letting the police do their job.

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