A La Mesa man who led police on a pursuit in a stolen Range Rover from Spring Valley to downtown San Diego, during which he attempted to ram a police cruiser and an officer trying to lay down a spike strip, was sentenced Tuesday to six years in state prison.
Jeremiah Fetalaiga, 21, pleaded guilty last month to assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, robbery, evading with wanton disregard and auto theft.
The pursuit began about 10 minutes before midnight on Aug. 31 when a San Diego County sheriff’s deputy tracking a LoJack signal came across the Range Rover in Spring Valley.
The San Diego Police Department’s Airborne Law Enforcement helicopter joined the pursuit early on, helping sheriff’s deputies and later California Highway Patrol officers track the SUV on northbound state Route 125, westbound Interstate 8 and southbound state Route 163 into downtown.
SDPD officers joined the chase as it entered downtown, but discontinued the pursuit for safety reasons as the police helicopter continued to track the SUV as the suspect drove erratically through downtown.
San Diego police Lt. Mike Holden said Fetalaiga encountered SDPD units who were deployed in the area, and intentionally tried to ram an occupied, marked SDPD unit that had pulled to the curb. On another occasion, the suspect attempted to ram a uniformed SDPD officer who was out of his car and attempting to set up a spike strip, Holden said.
In Barrio Logan, officers were following Fetalaiga at a distance when he drove into the MTS trolley yard at 1535 Newton Ave.
Holden said the suspect turned his vehicle around and accelerated directly at an officer who was still in his vehicle. Fearing that the suspect was going to intentionally ram his marked vehicle, the officer fired several rounds at the suspect, who swerved and drove out of the yard, Holden said.
Police re-engaged the chase, and when Fetalaiga attempted a slow U-turn at Sixth Avenue and Broadway, the same officer who fired the shots earlier “intentionally struck the suspect’s vehicle, ending the pursuit,” Holden said.
— City News Service