Suspect Who Fled from Deputies on Multiple Occasions, Hit a Pedestrian in a Parking Lot and Committed Several Additional Crimes, Finally Captured
Spokane Valley Sheriff’s Deputy worked together to finally end the crime spree of a suspect who fled from Deputies in a white Subaru. Deputies could not pursue the suspect due to the restriction of Washington State RCW 10.116.060. Yesterday, March 8, 2023, Deputies observed the vehicle/suspect, and again the suspect fled. Unable to pursue, Deputies flooded the area and located the suspect, now on foot, after he dumped the Subaru in a parking lot. After a short foot pursuit, the suspect was taken into custody and charged with several felony and misdemeanor charges.
On March 8, 2023, at approximately 3:00 pm, West Valley School Resource Deputy N. Woolard notified other Deputies about a malicious mischief/suspicious person observed in the 8300 block of E. Buckeye. A suspect, described as a white male driving a white Subaru Impreza without license plates, had drilled holes into the gas tanks in the area, and a picture of the suspect vehicle was provided.
Deputy A. Johnson recognized the Subaru in the picture as the vehicle from an incident on March 7, 2023, at approximately 10:40 pm, where the suspect ran from him. During this incident, Deputy Johnson observed the vehicle parked at Walmart, 5025 E. Sprague, and tried to contact the driver, later identified as 22-year-old Carson M. Mills. Instead of stopping, Mills threw the car in reverse, hit an electric scooter with a person on it, and fled from the parking lot at a high rate of speed. Deputy Johnson did not pursue due to the restrictions of Washington State RCW 10.116.060. The victim received minor injuries and refused medical attention at the scene.
(Deputy Johnson was not allowed to pursue the suspect due to the restrictions of Washington RCW 10.116.060.) NOTE: even though the RCW allows for a pursuit if “there is probable cause to believe that a person in the vehicle has committed or is committing a violent offense or sex offense as defined in RCW 9.94A.030, or an escape under chapter 9A.76 RCW”. Deputy Johnson did not have PROBABLE CAUSE that any crimes listed as a “violent offense” had been committed and hit and run (a misdemeanor in this instance) is not listed. He also did not have “reasonable suspicion” the driver was driving under the influence offense under RCW 46.61.502.
Deputy Johnson continued investigating this incident and obtained security footage of the suspect (Mills).
With the information noted above and now responding to on March 8, 2023, and knowing Mills was suspected of running in the same car several times in the last couple of weeks, Deputy Johnson searched for the Subaru.
A short time later, Sgt. J. Karnitz advised via radio the Subaru was at the intersection of N. Park Road and E. Broadway Avenue. He activated his emergency lights to try and get Mills to pull over, but Mills chose to flee east on Broadway at a high rate of speed. Sgt. Karnitz did not pursue due to the restrictions of Washington State RCW 10.116.060 and lost sight of the vehicle.
Again, at approximately 3:55 pm, Sgt. Karnitz observed Mills and the Subaru pulling into Amerimart (Park/Broadway). He made eye contact with Mills, who immediately accelerated to a high rate of speed through the parking lot and onto N. Park Road. He visually estimated Mills’ speed was 60 mph in a posted 25 mph zone. Sgt. Karnitz activated his emergency lights as Mills started passing northbound vehicles on the shoulder of the roadway. Again, per Washington State RCW 10.116.060 and knowing Mills was approaching a school zone and stop sign at Park and Mission, Sgt. Karnitz turned off his lights and did not pursue. However, Mills continued to accelerate and blew through the stop sign at Park and Mission, where several school buses were located.
Deputies heard Washington State Patrol Troopers advise via the radio that they observed the reckless Subaru traveling east on Trent and possibly turn south on N. Vista.
Within seconds, Sgt. C. Hilton noticed the Subaru driving in his direction at an estimated 90 mph in a 25 mph zone. Because of the extremely fast speed Mills was going, Sgt. Hilton did not have time to deploy spike strips. Sgt. Hilton saw Mills continue through the stop sign at Mission and Park, into the school zone, and pass several school buses arriving at the school.
Deputies continued to flood into the area to search for Mills. The Subaru was last seen turning south on N. Stanley Road from E. Railroad Avenue.
Near N. Stanley Road and E. Broadway Avenue, Sgt. Hilton observed a male, matching the pictures from the earlier Walmart incident, riding a scooter going south on N. Stanley near E. Cataldo Avenue. As the male (Mills) passed Sgt. Hilton, he activated his emergency lights while Mills entered a parking lot. Mills made a U-turn and quickly tried to ride past the patrol car, but Sht. Hilton exited and ordered Mills to stop and get on the ground. Mills took off running north on Stanley and then east in an alleyway with Sgt. Hilton rapidly closing in. Sgt. Hilton caught up to Mills as he approached a chain link fence. Mills was taken to the ground and into custody with the assistance of Sgt. J. Depriest and additional other arriving Deputies.
Sgt. Hilton located seven altered/shaved keys, commonly used to steal vehicles, and a metal set of spiked “brass knuckles”, inside Mills’ backpack. Violations of RCW 9A.56.063 Making/Possessing Vehicle Theft Tools and RCW 9.41.270 Possession of a Dangerous Weapon Capable of Producing Bodily Harm.
The Subaru driven by Mills was abandoned in Gold Seal Mechanical’s parking lot, 5524 E. Boone Avenue. Deputies reviewed video and observed Mills park the Subaru, retrieve a scooter and other items, and leave. A check of the Subaru’s VIN showed it had been reported stolen in Spokane on February 4, 2023.
Deputy Johnson advised Mills of his rights, and he agreed to answer questions. Deputy Johnson noted Mills smelled of gasoline, indicating he could be the suspect drilling holes in gas tanks. Mills initially denied being at Walmart the night before and fleeing from law enforcement. Once shown the pictures from the security cameras, he admitted he was there. He said he noticed Deputy Johnson’s patrol car in the parking lot when he left the store and decided to flee as soon as he got in the Subaru, thinking he’d be stopped. When he reversed, he hit the pedestrian, saying, “I didn’t even see him when I pulled out.” He didn’t intentionally hit the victim, and he didn’t stop because he didn’t have paperwork for the Subaru and thought the Subaru might be stolen.
In addition to this incident and the one the night before at Walmart, he also admitted to driving and intentionally eluding Deputies on February 17, 2023, at approximately 10:05 am, in the 11500 block of E. Montgomery, on February 23, 2023, at approximately 10:30 pm, near Custer/Sprague, and on March 6, 2023, at approximately 4:00 pm, near Park/Mission. Each time Mills drove recklessly without due regard for the safety of the public to intentionally evade a police vehicle.
Mills also admitted to stealing gas by using a drainage plug if the vehicle had one or by drilling a hole in the gas tank. He said he stole approximately $8 in gas on one occasion (causing approximately $2,000 in damage), and during another, he stole approximately $68 in gas (causing approximately $2,000 in damage). He also admitted to spray painting parts of the Subaru black, but he couldn’t finish the job because he didn’t have enough paint. When asked why he continued to drive it, he said, “Because I had places I needed to go real quick.”
Mills was transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for Eluding a Police Vehicle (5 counts), Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, Malicious Mischief 2nd Degree, Hit and Run, Theft 3rd Degree, Possession of Dangerous Weapon, Making/Possessing Motor Vehicle Theft Tools (7 counts), and Obstructing Law Enforcement.
The Subaru was seized pending a search warrant. A small plastic baggie containing a white crystalline substance believed to be Methamphetamine was seized and booked into evidence.
Pursuit Information RCW 10.116.060
(1) A peace officer may not engage in a vehicular pursuit, unless:
(a)(i) There is probable cause to believe that a person in the vehicle has committed or is committing a violent offense or sex offense as defined in RCW 9.94A.030, or an escape under chapter 9A.76 RCW; or
(ii) There is reasonable suspicion a person in the vehicle has committed or is committing a driving under the influence offense under RCW 46.61.502;
(b) The pursuit is necessary for the purpose of identifying or apprehending the person;
(c) The person poses an imminent threat to the safety of others and the safety risks of failing to apprehend or identify the person are considered to be greater than the safety risks of the vehicular pursuit under the circumstances; and
(d)(i) Except as provided in (d)(ii) of this subsection, the officer has received authorization to engage in the pursuit from a supervising officer and there is supervisory control of the pursuit. The officer in consultation with the supervising officer must consider alternatives to the vehicular pursuit. The supervisor must consider the justification for the vehicular pursuit and other safety considerations, including but not limited to speed, weather, traffic, road conditions, and the known presence of minors in the vehicle, and the vehicular pursuit must be terminated if any of the requirements of this subsection are not met;
(ii) For those jurisdictions with fewer than 10 commissioned officers, if a supervisor is not on duty at the time, the officer will request the on-call supervisor be notified of the pursuit according to the agency's procedures. The officer must consider alternatives to the vehicular pursuit, the justification for the vehicular pursuit, and other safety considerations, including but not limited to speed, weather, traffic, road conditions, and the known presence of minors in the vehicle. The officer must terminate the vehicular pursuit if any of the requirements of this subsection are not met.
(2) A pursuing officer shall comply with any agency procedures for designating the primary pursuit vehicle and determining the appropriate number of vehicles permitted to participate in the vehicular pursuit and comply with any agency procedures for coordinating operations with other jurisdictions, including available tribal police departments when applicable.
(3) A peace officer may not fire a weapon upon a moving vehicle unless necessary to protect against an imminent threat of serious physical harm resulting from the operator's or a passenger's use of a deadly weapon. For the purposes of this subsection, a vehicle is not considered a deadly weapon unless the operator is using the vehicle as a deadly weapon and no other reasonable means to avoid potential serious harm are immediately available to the officer.
(4) For purposes of this section, "vehicular pursuit" means an attempt by a uniformed peace officer in a vehicle equipped with emergency lights and a siren to stop a moving vehicle where the operator of the moving vehicle appears to be aware that the officer is signaling the operator to stop the vehicle and the operator of the moving vehicle appears to be willfully resisting or ignoring the officer's attempt to stop the vehicle by increasing vehicle speed, making evasive maneuvers, or operating the vehicle in a reckless manner that endangers the safety of the community or the officer.
(58) "Violent offense" means:
(a) Any of the following felonies:
(i) Any felony defined under any law as a class A felony or an attempt to commit a class A felony;
(ii) Criminal solicitation of or criminal conspiracy to commit a class A felony;
(iii) Manslaughter in the first degree;
(iv) Manslaughter in the second degree;
(v) Indecent liberties if committed by forcible compulsion;
(vi) Kidnapping in the second degree;
(vii) Arson in the second degree;
(viii) Assault in the second degree;
(ix) Assault of a child in the second degree;
(x) Extortion in the first degree;
(xi) Robbery in the second degree;
(xii) Drive-by shooting;
(xiii) Vehicular assault, when caused by the operation or driving of a vehicle by a person while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug or by the operation or driving of a vehicle in a reckless manner; and
(xiv) Vehicular homicide, when proximately caused by the driving of any vehicle by any person while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug as defined by RCW 46.61.502, or by the operation of any vehicle in a reckless manner;
(b) Any conviction for a felony offense in effect at any time prior to July 1, 1976, that is comparable to a felony classified as a violent offense in (a) of this subsection; and
(c) Any federal or out-of-state conviction for an offense that under the laws of this state would be a felony classified as a violent offense under (a) or (b) of this subsection.
(47) "Sex offense" means:
(a)(i) A felony that is a violation of chapter 9A.44 RCW other than RCW 9A.44.132;
(ii) A violation of RCW 9A.64.020;
(iii) A felony that is a violation of chapter 9.68A RCW other than RCW 9.68A.080;
(iv) A felony that is, under chapter 9A.28 RCW, a criminal attempt, criminal solicitation, or criminal conspiracy to commit such crimes; or
(v) A felony violation of RCW 9A.44.132(1) (failure to register as a sex offender) if the person has been convicted of violating RCW 9A.44.132(1) (failure to register as a sex offender) or 9A.44.130 prior to June 10, 2010, on at least one prior occasion;
(b) Any conviction for a felony offense in effect at any time prior to July 1, 1976, that is comparable to a felony classified as a sex offense in (a) of this subsection;
(c) A felony with a finding of sexual motivation under RCW 9.94A.835 or 13.40.135; or
(d) Any federal or out-of-state conviction for an offense that under the laws of this state would be a felony classified as a sex offense under (a) of this subsection.
(1) A person is guilty of vehicular assault if he or she operates or drives any vehicle:
(a) In a reckless manner and causes substantial bodily harm to another; or
(b) While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, as defined by RCW 46.61.502, and causes substantial bodily harm to another; or
(c) With disregard for the safety of others and causes substantial bodily harm to another.
(2) Vehicular assault is a class B felony punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW.
(3) As used in this section, "substantial bodily harm" has the same meaning as in RCW 9A.04.110.
Definition of Probable Cause - “Probable cause” means facts that would cause a reasonably cautious officer to believe that the person had committed that crime. In determining whether the facts known to the officer justified this belief, you may take into account the officer's experience and expertise.
Definition of Reasonable Suspicion - “Reasonable suspicion” is present when the officer has an objective belief, based on specific and articulable facts, that would justify stopping [the plaintiff] in order to investigate possible criminal activity.