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Drunk driver leads cops on merry chase

Police were busy Tuesday night trying to corral a drunk driver who ran amok through much of downtown Port Orchard — a chase that ended only when the suspect drove his car over a six-foot embankment near Bay Street.

The suspect, a Silverdale resident, allegedly approached Port Orchard Officer Jon Meador in the police department parking lot at City Hall just before shift change at 11 p.m. He asked for directions to the jail, saying he was looking for his girlfriend. Meador pointed up toward Cline Avenue and the suspect thanked him and started to walk away.

Meador asked the man if he was planning on driving because the suspect was visibly drunk. The suspect assured Meador he wasn’t, but then started walking toward Bay Street — the opposite direction of the jail.

Meador followed the man around the corner of City Hall, where he allegedly watched the suspect get into a parked car and try to drive off. Meador stopped the car and asked the man to get out and perform some drunk-driving tests.

This, said, police Chief Al Townsend, was when the situation got weird.

The suspect, said Townsend, refused to get out of the car, even when threatened with a taser. Officer Dave Kaeka, who hadn’t yet left for the evening, joined Meador and, after repeated warnings, zapped the suspect.

A taser jolt renders most suspects temporarily immobile, Kaeka said. Therefore, assuming the suspect would not fight back, Meador leaned in the window in an attempt to remove the man’s seatbelt.

Suddenly, the suspect stomped on the accelerator and started driving down Prospect Street toward Kitsap Street, with Meador hanging half out of the car. The taser prongs were still attached to the suspect, but Meador was dragged approximately 60 feet before Kaeka was able to shock the suspect again.

Meador managed to disentangle himself following the second taser blast, but the suspect was not yet ready to be taken into custody.

“The guy keeps going,” said Townsend.

With four police cars — three city, one county — now in pursuit, the suspect completed his lap of city hall and headed off down Bay Street. For reasons officers were unable to fathom, he turned into a driveway near the Port Orchard Yacht Club and ran his car right off a six-foot ledge at the end of the lot.

“Luckily he wasn’t going too fast,” Townsend said.

Officers were able to wrestle the suspect out of his car while it was still teetering on the edge of the embankment. He claimed his neck and back were hurting, so police took him to Harrison Hospital before taking him to jail.

The man was booked for second-degree assault, attempt to elude law enforcement and third-degree driving with a suspended license.

At the jail, officers also found out he had a DUI warrant out in Bremerton and a hit-and-run warrant in Port Orchard.

“This guy obviously has a history if he’s got a hit-and-run,” Townsend said. “That’s a bad sign.”

Just about the only thing officers didn’t book the man for was a DUI for that evening. DUI arrests require certain protocols, including physical tests and, if possible, a breathalyzer sample. Because of the chaos of the evening, officers wouldn’t have been able to adequately test the suspect until he was at the hospital.

At that point, Townsend said, it didn’t seem worth the aggravation.

“We didn’t have a test kit at the hospital so we didn’t mess with it,” he said.

Meador was also treated at the hospital for minor injuries — mostly scrapes and bruises — he sustained in the confrontation.

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