By Neha Malhi and Alexander Ramirez
INDIO, CA — Chance William Morris was charged here in Riverside County Superior Court last week with allegedly violating probation terms and a restraining order—but before the self-described former police academy attendee was arrested in December 2020, he allegedly took deputies on an hours-long chase from rooftop to rooftop.
It all started when the sheriff’s dept. received a 911 call from Morris’ wife, who explained he was attempting to enter her house, which violated the terms of a restraining order.
Deputy (no name given on Zoom) Farris said that he is familiar with Morris because he went to the same academy with his other fellow deputies, and Farris is also familiar with his prior felonies. The defendant was arrested two years prior to this incident in 2018 for domestic abuse of his wife.
Deputy Michael McQueeney, who was the officer in charge at that time, said he saw Morris reaching out to the hand gun, which is still believed to be missing and never collected by police. He was briefed about Morris’ case.
The defendant has a protective restrictive order and is not allowed to be within 100 feet of his wife. However, on Dec 9, 2020, Morris insisted on entering his wife’s house.
His wife, in panic, called 911 and told Deputy Farris that she didn’t want him to enter her house as she is in the middle of the divorce and has a restraining order against Morris.
The deputy gave Morris a chance to leave the premises, but he didn’t leave and instead went to open his trunk and started changing his shoes. The deputy said he felt threatened at the moment Morris reached for his trunk because he knew there was an outstanding warrant for a gun against him relating to his prior arrest.
He said that Morris told him, prior to this incident, that “he went to our Academy to learn our tactics and that he could use those skills and knowledge against us—he made threats to take my gun and shoot me with it as well hurt other people at the scene.”
Next up, Deputy Kevin Farag explained that he was dispatched to the scene in a request to keep the peace in the midst of a marital dispute at around 1 p.m. in the afternoon. He came into contact with Chance Morris just outside Morris’ car, about a block away from the residence where the keep-the-peace order was requested.
Morris later claimed to deputies he wanted to get inside his residence because he was locked out by his wife. When Farag tried questioning about why Morris previously went by the name “William” during his call with dispatch and how long he has been waiting outside of the house, Morris refused to answer.
When questioned why he wanted to get in the house,Morris said he wanted to gather a few items and sleep. Deputy Farag answered that he can’t settle any marital disputes, but he can escort Morris as he gathered his things.
Apparently, Morris was agitated at this point and his demeanor became less cooperative toward Farag over time, said the deputy.
“So I explained to Mr. Morris we were just trying to figure out what was going on and keep everything as peaceful as possible. Mr. Morris starting ignoring me, walking away, pacing back and forth, going to his car, coming back, and then he just got in his car and actually drove around the corner a little ways to a community mailbox while I was speaking to him,” Farag said.
When Morris got in his car, Farag said he was a bit concerned about an outstanding firearm in Morris’ possession. Also, while at the community mailbox, Morris had tried to open multiple different mailboxes with multiple keys, relaying that he didn’t know which mailbox was his.
After these attempts failed, and after he had re-entered his vehicle, Morris had quickly driven toward the residence in question, prompting Farag’s concern of a confrontation at the residence.
While Farag’s partner, Deputy McQueeny, was talking to Mrs. Morris, Mr. Morris arrived and started moving toward the trunk of his car, which McQueeny said he needed to stop doing.
Morris continued to pull out a pair of boots and start to put them on while spewing profanities. Morris also called both McQueeny and Farag “weak ass deputies,” and continued to say he wasn’t leaving.
As McQueeny continued telling Morris to leave and attempting an arrest when Morris didn’t comply, Morris pushed off from McQueeny and “flailed his arms before him, almost in a boxing stance.” All of this while continuing to yell profanities and saying that he “won’t go nowhere.”
Deputy McQueeny tried to tase Morris, but missed, prompting Morris to start running down the block toward the previously mentioned community mailbox. He reached behind the mailbox, prompting Deputy Farag who followed Morris to back off a bit, but Morris just ended up jumping the fence behind it.
Morris doubled back toward his residence and climbed on top of his two-story roof, yelling, “I’m not coming down for sh**.”
But Morris came down on the backyard-side of his house and jumped multiple fences while evading the police in another part of the neighborhood. During Farag’s pursuit, an aerial unit on the scene notified him of Morris’ location just on the other side of the fence he was about to jump. Fearing an ambush, Farag waited at this location while other officers on the scene surrounded the residence.
Once again, Morris jumped on the roof of the residence, and police officers evacuated the family living there.
While on the roof, Morris continued to say he wasn’t going to come down, but also took off his shirt at one point and said he was in better shape than everyone else there and that he “knew what he was doing.”
“He also at one point told me that he was going to jump down and run past me, but before he ran past me that he would take my gun out of my holster, use it on me. He made threats to other deputies and the public bystanders watching us,” Farag told the court.
“He said that he had gone to our academy with the express purpose of learning our tactics so that he can use them against us. He knew what we were going to do or say and how we would respond and that he had the experience he needed to defeat that,” said Deputy Farag.
To graduate from the police academy, you also had to be proficient in firearms, investigative tactics, and hand-to-hand combat, and Morris did graduate from the police academy.
Even then, Farag prepared for this threat, stating that “we don’t run away.” Farag said he continued to try to deescalate the situation.
Around 9:30 p.m., Morris jumped down into the front yard of the residence where deputies tackled him. It took about eight or nine deputies to apprehend Morris after he tucked his arms under his body and struggled, said witnesses.
Even as medical personnel were called to look at Morris in case he had hurt himself, he was still not cooperative, the deputies testified.
Body camera footage of the incident was shown to the jury and court.
During a separate incident that occurred on March 11, 2021, as Farag was returning to the station from a shift, he once again saw Morris.
As Farag received another assignment just outside the station, another vehicle stopped by his patrol car and rolled down its window and the person inside made the shape of a gun with his fingers, pointed at Farag, and recoiled his arm as if he shot a gun. He drove away after this incident.
Because of the incident in December and the outstanding firearm possibly in Morris’ possession, Farag believes that this act was a threat to him to shoot him, but he couldn’t find Morris after he drove off.