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Valle/Tusayan, AZ -
On May 14th at approximately Midnight, A Coconino County Sheriff’s Deputy out of the Williams-Grand Canyon District parked to observe traffic alongside Highway 64 North of Valle. While there, the Deputy witnessed a Jeep Cherokee driving in a South Bound direction traveling at a high rate of speed.
After the Jeep passed the Deputy’s position, the Jeep slammed on the brakes and came to a skidding stop in the northbound lane of the highway. Once stopped the Jeep put the vehicle in reverse and started backing up to the Deputy’s position in his patrol vehicle. The Deputy exited his vehicle and called out to the driver to stop as the Jeep approached him at a dangerous speed in reverse. The Jeep again stopped and sped off south bound in the northbound lane of Highway 64. The Deputy then activated his emergency lights and siren in an attempt to catch-up to and stop the Jeep.
During the pursuit, the Jeep stopped again in the roadway, and backed up towards the deputy’s patrol vehicle in an aggressive manner. The jeep then continued southbound in the northbound lane of Highway 64 with the deputy in pursuit.
At one point the deputy stopped his pursuit of the vehicle due to the dangerous driving behavior exhibited and its potential risk to the public. However, when the deputy pulled over and turned his emergency lights off the jeep made a U-turn and drove at a high rate of speed back at the deputy’s position almost striking the patrol vehicle on the driver’s side.
After almost hitting the deputy’s patrol vehicle, the Jeep continued driving northbound on Highway 64. Due to the change in behavior and the driver now targeting a marked patrol vehicle the deputy made another attempt to stop the vehicle activating his emergency lights and siren. The pursuit of the vehicle continued between milepost 229 and 306 until the vehicle gained enough distance it was no longer observed by the deputy.
Shortly after, the vehicle was again observed traveling at a high rate of speed southbound on Highway 64. At one point, the deputy was able to stop the vehicle by blocking Highway 64 with his patrol vehicle, however, the suspect driver then placed his front bumper against the patrol vehicle’s front bumper and tried to accelerate to push the deputy out of the way. When this did not work the vehicle backed up and was able to proceed around the patrol vehicle. The vehicle was eventually located by a responding Trooper from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, who was able to stop the vehicle using a PIT maneuver which disabled the suspect vehicle near milepost 217. The driver was then taken into custody and turned over to deputies who arrived shortly after. The driver was identified as Christopher Lasita, 32 years old, from Cave Creek. During this pursuit a 911 call was received by another motorist indicating Lasita had stopped them on Highway 64 and reportedly discharged a firearm.
Lasita was booked into the Coconino County Detention Facility and charged with Aggravated Assault on Law Enforcement, Endangerment, Criminal Damage, Unlawful Flight from Law Enforcement, Aggressive Driving, and Reckless Driving.
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