Police ID Colo. cop who was seriously injured after falling 40 feet during pursuit
Officer Julian Becerra, who is married with two children, is in stable but critical condition
By Annika Schmidt
FOUNTAIN, Colo. — Officials have identified the Fountain police officer critically injured after falling from a bridge during a pursuit Thursday night. The three suspects arrested after the pursuit have also been identified.
The injured Fountain police officer, identified as officer Julian Becerra, is in stable but critical condition after falling 40 feet from a bridge south of Colorado Springs while attempting to apprehend a carjacking suspect. Becerra is recovering at a local hospital with his family and other Fountain officers by his side.
Becerra has been employed with the Fountain Police Department for 4 1/2 years and is assigned to the patrol division as a K9 officer; his K9 was not with him during the incident. According to a verified GoFundMe, he is married with two children.
The driver who allegedly led Colorado State Patrol and police on the chase, 31-year-old Devon Bobian, and passenger 32-year-old Anthony Vallejos, had felony arrest warrants, officials said. The two men, plus another passenger, 28-year-old Danisha Pacheco, are facing numerous felony charges after being arrested on the bridge Thursday night, police announced.
Officials said the trio had evaded law enforcement for hours before being arrested Thursday night.
Around 4 p.m. Thursday, Fountain Police Department's Directed Investigation Community Engagement Team was asked to assist the Department of Corrections Parole Unit in locating a carjacking suspect from the Pueblo area who had active felony warrants. Officials said the suspect was driving a stolen vehicle and was possibly traveling north on I-25 from Pueblo. Multiple law enforcement agencies were assisting to locate the stolen vehicle.
At approximately 5:30 p.m., the stolen vehicle was spotted by officers near a Lowe's store near North Academy and Platte Avenue. However, police said the vehicle driver was driving recklessly and officers lost track of the car.
The vehicle was located again at 7:15 p.m., traveling south on I-25 toward Fountain. Officers tracked the vehicle to the area of Highway U.S. 85-87 and Alegre Circle, but were unable to stop the vehicle.
Law enforcement followed the stolen vehicle at a high rate of speed south on U.S. 85-87, when the driver merged onto the northbound lanes of I-25 but heading south, police said. Due to the dangerous nature of the pursuit, officers stopped following the vehicle. The suspect vehicle eventually made a U-turn and began traveling northbound in the northbound lanes of I-25.
Officers set up at a stationary, perimeter position observed the vehicle pull into the Love's Travel Plaza in the 5500 block of Travel Plaza Drive, where the suspects allegedly commit a carjacking at gunpoint in the parking lot.
They were unsuccessful, and police resumed the pursuit northbound on I-25.
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The suspect vehicle exited I-25 at South Academy, and the high-speed pursuit ended shortly after the occupants allegedly attempted to carjack another vehicle at gunpoint near South Academy Boulevard and Hartford Street, east of Interstate 25.
Cristiani said the vehicle was disabled by a tire deflation device, and finally stopped by a tactical vehicle intervention method called a PIT maneuver, which involved more than one law enforcement vehicle ramming into the stolen vehicle, which has been identified as a tan or beige Hyundi Tucson.
One of the suspects exited the vehicle, and was trying to evade Fountain police on foot. While attempting to apprehend the suspect, also on foot, Becerra fell from the South Academy Boulevard bridge into the creek bed. South Academy spans over the Fountain Creek near the highway U.S. 85-87.
Cristiani said they do not have clarity on the cause of the fall, which is under investigation by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
A video of the incident circulating on social media shows police cruisers pursuing a vehicle on what appears to be the northbound lanes of South Academy. The video then shows the suspect vehicle spin out and crash into a guardrail. Several cruisers crash into the vehicle from behind, and multiple officers exit their cruisers. A person in a hoodie can be seen in the video exiting the suspect vehicle, and appears to climb on top of the car before jumping off in an apparent attempt to flee officers. As the suspect jumps from the vehicle, one officer appears to fall over the guardrail.
Cristiani extended gratitude to the agencies and medical personnel on the scene, who worked for approximately one hour to recover Becerra from his location and get him into a helicopter. He was taken by the Flight for Life helicopter to a local hospital in "critical condition." As of Friday afternoon, he remains in "critical but stable," condition, officials said.
South Academy was closed between I-25 and Drennan Road Thursday night during and after the incident.
"I would like to convey again my sincerest thoughts and prayers for our Fountain police officer Becerra who was seriously injured yesterday evening while protecting our citizens from a dangerous threat to our community. I offer my sincerest concerns and regards to his family and want them all to know that Fountain is behind them," said Mayor of Fountain Sharon Thompson on Friday.
Donations can be made to the Becerra family by following this link: csppa.org/fallen-officer-relief-fund/.
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