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Man leads Cortez police on high-speed chase

Suspect might have suffered brain injury

A man crashed his car on County Road G and was hospitalized late Tuesday after leading Cortez police on a high-speed chase that began on Main Street.

Lance Ironshirt Tootsonie, 26, reached speeds of 100 mph on southbound U.S. Highway 491 before police said they ended their pursuit. Montezuma County Sheriff’s deputies followed Tootsonie and made contact with him after he crashed his car about 10:30 p.m. on County Road G. He was taken to Southwest Memorial Hospital, then airlifted to Grand Junction for treatment of a brain bleed. As of Thursday morning, his condition was uncertain.

Police Lt. Andy Brock said the chase began just after 10 p.m. when a Cortez police officer attempted to stop a driver with Utah license plates, identified as Tootsonie, for making a left turn from a right-turn-only lane on Main Street. Tootsonie pulled over into a parking lot, then made a U-turn to evade the officer. The chase moved to southbound U.S. Highway 491, and by the time Tootsonie reached County Road G, he was going faster than 100 mph, police said. Police called off the pursuit because it was unsafe, Brock said.

Sgt. Brad Ray and Deputy Xavier Brito, of the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, then started following Tootsonie’s route with their flashing lights and sirens off, thinking he might have crashed. They contacted the crashed car on the side of the road in the 20000 block of Road G about 10:30 p.m. Sheriff Patrol Lt. Vernon Knuckles reported that Tootsonie exited his car, but resisted deputies’ efforts to grab his arms, and began swinging his fists. Deputy Ray deployed his stun gun to subdue Tootsonie, but it struck his jacket and was ineffective. Tootsonie took a knife out of his right pocket and was attempting to open it when Brito stunned him a second time. After that, he got on the ground, and police transported him to the hospital.

It wasn’t clear whether Tootsonie was injured before or after the chase, Brock said.

“If he did have a brain bleed from some kind of injury, that could definitely have affected his behavior,” he said.

At Southwest Memorial, the man was tested alcohol or drugs, but Brock said the results won’t come back for a few days. He said Cortez police will pursue a warrant for Tootsonie’s arrest.

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