By Coco Wang
WOODLAND – A man allegedly evaded a police officer in Woodland on a dirt bike for 1.8 miles at over 60 miles per hour.
Stephon Padilla is charged with felony reckless evading a peace officer, misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Allegedly, the defendant did not yield to the police officer during the entire pursuit and was, at one point, riding counter to traffic on the sidewalk.
The prosecution introduced a witness from the Woodland Police Department. A police officer, Juan Barrera, testified that he saw a speeding off-road dirt bike without lights or a license plate at around 7:03 pm on January 16.
Officer Barrera claimed that he soon turned on the siren and lights on his patrol vehicle and attempted to pull over the dirt bike, to no avail. Officer Barrera was dressed in his police uniform at the time in a vehicle marked with “POLICE” and “K-9” markings.
The defendant allegedly sped through a gas station, a community parking lot, a construction zone, and at least four stop signs without yielding to the police officer, and only slowed down when making turns. The speed limit in Woodland is generally 45 mph, with a 25 mph limit around residential areas; yet the defendant allegedly drove at over 60 mph on the city streets, including in residential areas.
Officer Barrera noted that the defendant was driving counter to traffic for about a block until another vehicle almost hit the defendant. Eventually, Officer Barrera claimed that he grabbed the defendant by his jacket after the defendant fell off his bike. When asked about the reason for this evasion, the defendant allegedly told Officer Barrera that he was on his way to meet with friends.
Officer Barrera testified that, as another officer searched the defendant, a bag of drugs and a pipe were found in the defendant’s belongings. After testing the contents of the defendant’s belongings, Officer Barrera stated that the result was positive for methamphetamines. He was also able to identify that the pipe had been used, by its burned marks. Officer Barrera testified that the net weight of methamphetamines was 0.24 grams, which was a usable amount.
During cross-examination, Officer Barrera testified that the defendant did not damage any property, nor did he cause any bodily injury during the pursuit – although there were several instances when the defendant almost lost control of the bike and could have potentially hurt himself or others. Officer Barrera identified the defendant’s dirt bike as an off-road bike since it did not have any lights or a license plate.
The defense, represented by Deputy Public Defender Jose Gonzalez-Vasquez, requested that the court reduce the felony reckless evading a peace officer to a misdemeanor, since the defendant’s criminal record has been clear of felony crimes for 15 years, except for stalking in 2016, and the defendant did not cause any damages or injuries with his dirt bike.
The prosecution argued against it, claiming that the defendant was arrested with no conviction in 2015, had a protective order placed on him in 2016, and had several violations of probation since then. The prosecution stated that although no property damages or personal injuries occurred, the defendant subjected not only himself but all the people who were on the streets to danger with his reckless driving in the dark without lights.
The court acknowledged the gravity of the defendant’s action, the potential harm he could have inflicted, and therefore rejected the defense’s request, maintaining the charge on reckless evading a peace officer as a felony.
The defendant is to face trial. The arraignment date is on February 18 at 10 am.