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Wash. PD officers in another city for conference arrest suspect in hit-and-run crash while en route to dinner

The off-duty Pasco Police Department officers witnessed the crash and pursued the suspect while in Spokane for a leadership conference

Pasco police officers in Spokane for conference apprehend suspect in downtown crash en route to dinner

“It was the right thing to do,” Groom said. “The way he was driving and then obviously striking that vehicle like he did and not even stopping to look to see if people were OK, it was just the right thing.”

City of Spokane Police Department via Facebook

By Garrett Cabeza
The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Pasco police Lt. Thomas Groom wasn’t expecting to turn his walk to dinner into a foot pursuit of a fleeing hit-and-run suspect in another city.

But that’s what he and a few other high-ranking Pasco police officers felt called to do Monday night in downtown Spokane.

A high-speed, hit-and-run rollover crash sent two people to the hospital and landed a 30-year-old man in jail after he was apprehended by the off-duty officers.

“It was the right thing to do,” Groom said. “The way he was driving and then obviously striking that vehicle like he did and not even stopping to look to see if people were OK, it was just the right thing.”

Groom, Lt. Matt Decker, Chief Ken Roske and Deputy Chief Brent Cook were in town for the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs conference at the Spokane Convention Center, Groom said.

Witnesses, including the driver and passenger of a white Chevrolet Trailblazer, told police the driver of a Jeep Compass ran a red light at Washington Street and Main Avenue and struck the Trailblazer, according to court documents.

Witnesses told police the driver of the reported stolen Compass, Joshua DeVleming, ran before the Pasco officers detained him about a half-block away.

The crash caused the Trailblazer to roll over and trapped the driver inside, documents say. Firefighters removed him.

Both occupants sustained minor injuries and were taken to a local hospital, Spokane police said in a news release.

As Groom’s group was walking to dinner, he said he saw the Jeep heading east at what sounded like a fast speed before hearing the crash. He turned around and saw the Trailblazer start to roll.

The four officers headed to the crash scene to help.

Groom said he saw DeVleming pop out of the driver’s seat and go around the back of the vehicle before running east. All four officers, who were without guns and badges, started to pursue DeVleming before Roske stopped to call 911, Groom said.

Decker took DeVleming to the ground and then he, Groom and Cook helped apprehend the suspect, Groom said.

Groom returned to the crash scene, while Decker and Cook stayed with DeVleming until Spokane police officers arrived.

Groom said he was impressed by bystanders helping the occupants of the Trailblazer. Two bystanders were helping the driver trapped in the car, and other people were trying to keep the passenger calm.

“As bad as that situation was, I thought that was a cool point that people were entrusted in helping other people,” Groom said.

He said if they had not pursued the suspect, other bystanders likely would have.

“There were plenty of people jumping into action to help where they could, so had we not just been in the position to start chasing when we did, it would not surprise me if somebody else would have started as well,” Groom said.

DeVleming had a Department of Corrections warrant, police said in documents.

He told police he sideswiped a vehicle and started driving faster to get away. As he looked back to see whether he was followed, he collided with another vehicle in the intersection.

DeVleming admitted to smoking methamphetamine that afternoon and that the drug use affected his driving, court records show.

About four hours before the alleged hit-and-run, a Spokane police officer saw DeVleming “recklessly drive” the stolen Compass downtown, documents say. The officer claimed DeVleming drove a fast speed and ignored the officer’s lights and sirens to pull over.

The officer stopped following DeVleming because of his “reckless” driving that nearly caused a crash, according to documents.

DeVleming faces attempt to elude police, two counts of failure to remain at the scene of an injury accident and DUI.

He made his first appearance Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court and is set for an arraignment June 4. He remained in the Spokane County Jail Thursday night in lieu of a $20,000 bond.


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