Jul 21, 2016

Man facing nine charges after high-speed chase in stolen vehicle

A 26-year-old man is facing nine criminal charges after allegedly stealing one truck, driving a different one stolen from Billings and leading police on a high-speed chase in Cody early Tuesday morning.

John T. Johnson has been charged with felony counts of burglary, theft of more than $1,000 and receiving or concealing stolen property valued at more than $1,000. He also faces misdemeanor counts of reckless driving, failing to report a crash to police, fleeing or eluding police, interference with a peace officer, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and driving without a license.

John T. Johnson
Johnson — who has said he has no home address or possessions — remained in the Park County Detention Center on Wednesday with bail set at $35,000 cash.

Things started shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday, when a man on Cody’s 13th Street reported his Chevrolet truck had been stolen. The man told police he’d heard his locked truck’s alarm and went outside to find it was gone, according to a charging affidavit written by Cody Police Officer Blake Stinson; the truck owner said someone must have stolen a spare key from inside the vehicle earlier in the night.

At about 2:15 a.m., the stolen Chevy was found about a mile and a half away, abandoned on Blackburn Avenue; a mountain bike which had been stashed in the bed of the truck was missing, Stinson wrote.

Police caught a break soon after that, when a green Ford Ranger truck being driven by Johnson came right into the area officers were searching, the charges allege. Cody police say the Ranger had several mountain bikes — including the one taken from the Chevy — in its bed; the Ranger itself had been reported as stolen in Billings.

Upon seeing the officers, Johnson immediately turned around and fled on Blackburn Avenue, charging documents allege.

“The suspect narrowly missed houses, vehicles, and campers, placing the citizens of Cody in grave danger,” wrote Officer Blake Stinson.

Turning onto Bighorn Avenue, he hit a dumpster and accelerated to speeds of up to 80 mph, Stinson wrote.

It was the start of a roughly eight-minute pursuit in which Johnson allegedly drove to 19th Street, Sheridan Avenue, North Street, Cougar Avenue and 23rd Street.

A rough outline of Tuesday's pursuit, as described in charging documents.
While driving on Cougar Avenue — at around 60 mph — Johnson shut off his lights and he later sped through the parking lot of an assisted living facility, Stinson said.

“The suspect narrowly missed houses, vehicles, and campers, placing the citizens of Cody in grave danger,” the officer wrote.

Johnson eventually crashed the truck in a drainage ditch. After a foot chase, Stinson was able to catch and subdue the man on the bank of the ditch.

A preliminary hearing where a judge will weigh the evidence against Johnson is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday.

The incident was the second high-speed chase to take place in the Cody area over the past week.

On July 14, a 28-year-old Billings woman reportedly refused to pull over for a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper on U.S. Highway 14-16-20 east of Cody. Trooper John Hoffman clocked her going as fast as 111 mph.

The “extremely intoxicated” woman later told troopers she’d been taking pills and drinking alcohol in an attempt to kill herself, Hoffman wrote in a charging affidavit. She was taken to West Park Hospital to be treated for an overdose and for a mental health evaluation.

The woman has been charged with misdemeanor counts of driving while under the influence, fleeing or eluding police, reckless driving, passing in a no-passing zone, improper lane use and speeding. She’s tentatively scheduled to make her first court appearance on Friday morning.

~By CJ Baker

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