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High-speed chase in New Mexico leads to couple’s arrest

Suspect vehicle fled police despite blown tire; drove wrong way on U.S. 491

A dramatic high-speed chase of a suspect from Farmington to Shiprock, New Mexico, on March 19 involved multiple law enforcement agencies and ended in two arrests.

According to New Mexico State Police reports obtained through a records request by The Journal, a 911 call at 4:19 p.m. reported a suspected kidnapping in Farmington near a middle school, which led city police to attempt to stop a black 2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse, which then fled officers.

New Mexico State Police, San Juan County Sheriff’s deputies and Navajo police pursued the vehicle south on State Highway 371 then west on Road 36.

Stop strips failed to stop the Eclipse, and the vehicle sped west on Road 36 toward U.S. Highway 491 on a blown right front tire. Eventually, the vehicle traveled on the metal rim.

San Juan County deputies and Navajo Police also deployed stop strips, but the suspect avoided them. Law enforcement considered conducting a Pursuit Intervention Technique maneuver to push the Eclipse sideways, but decided against it because the dispatch report claimed a baby was in the car.

Road 36 and the intersection with U.S. Highway 491 were closed to traffic during the pursuit.

The Mitsubishi then traveled north in the southbound lane of U.S. Highway 491, “increasing its speed,” according to the incident report. Police continued the pursuit northward with speeds reaching 95 mph.

Officers ahead of the chase instructed southbound drivers on the highway to pull over, then shut down all southbound traffic on U.S. 491 with police vehicles. The action forced the Mitsubishi to cross over into the northbound lanes.

A New Mexico State Police officer attempted two PIT maneuvers on the fleeing vehicle as it approached Shiprock city limits. Both times, the suspect regained control of the vehicle. The suspect again crossed into the southbound lane, and turned west onto U.S. Highway 64.

After a half-mile, the vehicle abruptly drove up a dirt driveway and crashed through a gate and stopped near a residence.

According to the report, “both the male driver and female passenger immediately exited the vehicle and fled on foot towards the back door of the residence. The suspects kicked the back door open and gained entrance into the residence. There was a second door leading into the main portion of the residence and the suspects were pulling at the door as officers ran in after them. The family inside the residence were holding the door shut to keep the suspects from getting into the residence. Both doors and frames were damaged in the process.”

Five officers chased the suspects into the residence and took them into custody, the report states.

The driver was identified as Patrick Haven Dennison, 30, of Farmington, and the female passenger was identified at Diatra Joni Smith, 35, also of Farmington, according to New Mexico State Police.

Dennison was charged with multiple suspected offenses, including felony aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer, misdemeanor driving while license revoked, and misdemeanor violations for registration plates, no proof of insurance, and possession of an open container of alcohol in the vehicle.

During booking, Smith told officers she had not been kidnapped, and that Dennison was her boyfriend.

According to the incident report, the couple had a verbal argument over a text message, and Smith said someone must have seen them arguing and called law enforcement. She said Dennison did not stop for law enforcement because she had two active warrants for her arrest, and he did not want her to go to jail.

Smith was arrested for her two warrants, and was issued non-traffic citations for possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.

No serious injuries were reported, and a child was not in the vehicle.

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