Man accused of ramming Jal police car, fleeing police
The Jal Police Department apprehended a suspect in a Friday police pursuit through the city after he allegedly fled a traffic stop, “intentionally” rammed into a police car and abandoned his vehicle to run on foot.
Around 8:41 p.m. Friday, Jal police pulled over a Dodge pickup truck after seeing it run a stop sign on Third Street. The driver, identified as Sergio Rojas, 42, stopped and gave police his name and date of birth, but said he had an arrest for driving while revoked, according to the criminal complaint. Later, Rojas allegedly drove away from the traffic stop and drove down several streets as officers pursued him.
“Rojas began to stop his vehicle, and I began to stop mine and get out to apprehend him,” wrote a Jal officer. “While slowing down to what I thought was a stop, Rojas intentionally rammed the truck into the back right side of my unit with no regard for my life, causing me to spin out of control.”
The collision reportedly blew out a tire on the police vehicle and caused “heavy damage” to the passenger side. Jal Police Chief Mauricio Valeriano confirmed Monday there were no injuries from Friday’s incident.
“On the dash camera video of the 27 minute long pursuit through town, Rojas endangered many Jal residents,” the complaint states. “He traveled against oncoming traffic, ignored and ran around 30 stop signs in the middle of town and crossing a busy (highway) several times.”
It also alleges Rojas drove on the wrong side of the road, failed to yield to law enforcement and almost struck several vehicles. The police department announced afterwards that the Lea County Sheriff’s Office deployed spike strips and Rojas abandoned the truck in the 600 block of 6th Street. Officers later found him at a nearby home after obtaining a homeowner’s consent to search the residence.
“During the chase, a lot of people came outside,” Valeriano said. “Jal’s a small community, and I’m just glad we live in a place where people were assisting us and helping us catch the (suspect), not the other way around. It was great. We had people like pointing ‘This guy went this way. He went this way.’”
He added that Jal police received a lot of phone calls from people giving them tips.
“It was a great outcome,” Valeriano said. “Of course, we don’t look forward to things like this. Even for a small town, we don’t see incidents like this all the time, but we’re happy the way it turned out.”
Rojas is charged with aggravated battery upon a peace officer with a deadly weapon, a third-degree felony; aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer and criminal damage to property, both fourth-degree felonies; resisting, evading or obstructing an officer, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while license revoked and stop sign, all misdemeanors.
Jal police described the events of the police pursuit and the search for Rojas after he exited the truck in a lengthy Facebook post on Saturday.
“Further investigation yielded Rojas had fled Lea County Sheriff’s Office just days before this pursuit in Jal,” the department stated.
Valeriano said Rojas was booked at the Jal City Jail and released Monday on a $20,000 unsecured bond.