A 22-year-old man who injured a Tucson police officer while trying to flee from a traffic stop has been sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison.
Tucson police Officer Steve La Veau spotted a car stopped in the road near First Avenue and Fort Lowell Road shortly after 10:30 p.m. one night last May. The car pulled into a dirt lot.
When La Veau ran the car's plates, he discovered the car had been flagged days earlier due to a driving under the influence incident, according to court documents.
La Veau pulled in front of the car and another officer pulled behind it. When they approached they spotted a pipe used to smoke methamphetamine in the center console, according to court documents.
When the officers told the driver of the car, later identified as Ramon Camacho Rodriguez, to get out of the car, he accelerated, court documents state. La Veau tried to pull Rodriguez out of the car, but was hit by the car door as Rodriguez sideswiped one of the patrol cars. Rodriguez then backed up and almost hit Officer Ryan Azuelo. When he accelerated forward, he caused La Veau to fall to the ground and hurt his back.
As Rodriguez left the scene, he hit several parked vehicles, court documents state. The officers gave chase at speeds up to 90 mph as Rodriguez failed to stop at 11 stop signs before losing control and hitting a car near East Grant and North Country Club roads.
Rodriguez ran but was tracked down and bitten by a police patrol dog in a nearby back yard, court documents state.
Officers found a loaded handgun under Rodriguez's seat; its serial numbers had been obliterated, court documents state.
At the time of Rodriguez's arrest, he was on probation in two other felony cases.
Rodriguez pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Teresa Godoy sentenced Rodriguez to 7 1/2 years on the assault charge and to a concurrent 4 1/2 years on the weapons charge Friday. She also revoked Rodriguez's probation in the other cases and ran the prison sentences in those cases concurrently with each other and concurrently with the assault sentence.
She also ordered Rodriguez to pay more than $3,200 in restitution.
Assistant Pima County Public Defender Walter Palser said his client wouldn't "maliciously attack" anyone. He just feared going to prison and panicked during the traffic stop.
Palser said Rodriguez had pulled over to text, knowing it is illegal to text while driving in Tucson.
Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @KimSmithStar On StarNet: Follow courthouse news at Kim Smith's blog at azstarnet.com/courthouse