Austin Barry Scott took his mother’s Ford F-350 from her home outside Reno and drove county roads and back roads into California to avoid the law heading into Sacramento on his way to Santa Cruz. He got as far as Antelope when prosecutors say he made the decision that has him facing an attempted murder charge in a Sacramento courtroom for allegedly ramming and running over a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer.
Michael Ericson, a veteran California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer, spotted the blue Ford pickup in the center freeway median.
In the frantic minutes that followed on the afternoon of April 7, 2016, Ericson lay injured on the freeway and fighting for his life near his crumpled motorcycle and Scott was gone, heading west on Interstate 80, a prosecutor told jurors in her closing argument in the case against Scott Monday in Sacramento Superior Court.
“He was slamming on the gas toward a human being, driving directly over the body of a man lying helpless in the street,” prosecuting Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Macy said Monday before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette. “He turned the wheel to drive (the truck) over the body.”
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Scott, 29, faces additional charges including vehicle theft, evading a peace officer causing serious bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon against a peace officer for allegedly ramming and running over California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Ericson on southbound Interstate 80 near Madison Avenue.
Ten months after the near-fatal wreck, Ericson continues to heal, but the damage appears permanent – doctors inserted an inventory list of titanium rods, plates and screws to stabilize his shattered arm, hips and pelvis. A stent was fitted into his torn carotid artery. He still does not have full function of his left foot, Macy said.
Macy argued that Scott’s testimony earlier at trial that he did not see Ericson did not hold up. Scott, who told investigators he had used methamphetamine the night before the collision with Ericson, had said he saw a dark figure climb into the bed of the pickup and that he slammed the car into reverse to shake free the intruder, Macy said.
Scott’s defense attorney, Sacramento County Deputy Public Defender Norm Dawson, said Scott did not specifically intend to kill Officer Ericson in arguing against an attempted murder charge.
But Macy argued Scott, on the run for hours, intentionally slammed into, then ran over Ericson, with the stolen pickup before running over the officer a second time.
Authorities say Scott later dumped the Ford for a contractor’s work truck and led officers on high-speed chase through Yolo and into Solano County, before he was arrested in Fairfield.
Even before the fateful meeting with Ericson, Scott knew he was in trouble, Macy told jurors, reading from the text that his mother’s boyfriend sent him from Nevada earlier that morning that offered Scott a way out if he returned the truck in one piece.
“‘When they catch you – and they will – you’re going to prison,” the text read. “Bring it back and we’ll work something out.”
Jurors will continue to deliberate Scott’s fate on Tuesday.