A 33-year-old auto theft suspect was in custody Friday after he allegedly led deputies on a 15-minute pursuit through the East County in which he struck a patrol car and kept driving.

The pursuit began near Mapleview Street and Maine Avenue in Lakeside about 11 p.m. Thursday when the man refused to yield for a traffic stop, according to San Diego County sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Forbes.

A deputy attempted to pull the man over and noticed that the suspect’s Honda Accord bore a license plate that had been reported stolen.

The suspect drove southbound on Highway 67 and the pursuit went from Lakeside into Santee, El Cajon and La Mesa. Near Grossmont College Drive and Highway 125, the suspect made an illegal turn, struck a patrol car and continued driving, Forbes said, adding no one was hurt in the crash.

The suspect eventually drove over a spike strip but continued driving with a flat front tire before stopping near Chatham and Witherspoon in La Mesa, where he and his 28-year-old female passenger were taken into custody, Forbes said.

Branden Espinoza was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property, evading police, possession of heroin for sale, possession of ammunition, Forbes said, adding that deputies also learned that Espinoza was named in a felony warrant.

Espinoza’s passenger, Cortney Brackney, was also arrested for a warrant.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.