By Abigail Henderson
WOODLAND–The defendant, Arnold Parker, has been charged with reckless driving and evading police officers after a mistaken gun tip-off led to a high-speed chase along the I-5 freeway.
Mr. Parker was staying in the Woodland Motel 6 on Nov. 20, 2019, when an on-duty cleaning person allegedly recognized a “gun-like” object in his room. Police were subsequently dispatched and Mr. Parker proceeded to flee the scene after being approached by officers.
The first witness, Officer Josette Fair, testified about her involvement and dispatch to the Motel 6 on Main Street.
When approaching Mr. Parker’s motel room to investigate the call, the officer found that it had already been cleaned. Officer Fair stated she was about to call the scene clear and head out when the motel manager told police the defendant was in the main office.
Officer Fair and 4 other officers approached Mr. Parker and ordered him to show them his hands.
Officer Fair recalled Mr. Parker was holding an armful of clothes at the time but did not know what else he could have been holding. He also was allegedly loading the clothes into his black sedan vehicle, which was running at the time.
The prosecution, during this part of her testimony, emphasized what Officer Fair had been wearing.
She described her everyday police uniform, the standard-issue handgun she had on her hip at the time, and the AR-15 patrol rifle she had strapped across the front of her body.
In addition to the multiple firearms, Officer Fair was wearing a body-camera that could have recorded the encounter with the defendant, but she said it was turned off at the time.
Officer Fair also testified that another corporal at the scene had been carrying a less-than-lethal weapon; one that shoots 40mm rubber pellets or “bean bags” instead of bullets.
The defense asked Officer Fair if she witnessed this weapon being shot at Mr. Parker, but she only remembered seeing smoke coming from the passenger side of his vehicle.
Mr. Parker, allegedly surprised by the officers’ presence, jumped into his car and sped out of the parking lot at a high speed. A chase ensued by multiple officers, including Officer Fair, who went on to describe it.
It took the officers several minutes to catch up to the defendant, who reached speeds of 120 mph on the freeway. He was weaving through traffic and driving in between lanes, risking the lives of those around him.
The prosecution again emphasized the visual presence of the officers, from their patrol car lights to their loud, unmistakable sirens.
All of these indications seemed to prove that Mr. Parker could recognize who was chasing him and his subsequent choice to not pull over for police.
Mr. Parker then turned off the freeway into a field where he abandoned his car and hid from police in a large blackberry bush. The officers were able to locate him about an hour later.
Officer Fair also testified to her search of the defendant’s vehicle after apprehending him. She found a pellet gun in the center console—no real firearm was discovered.
This trial will reconvene over the next few days, with more witness testimonies and video evidence to be presented by the prosecution.
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