Austin Barry Scott, 28, appeared in a Sacramento courtroom Monday on charges including attempted murder, accused of intentionally backing a truck into a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer and critically injuring him.
The hearing before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Jaime Román was continued until April 20. Scott, alongside supervising Sacramento County Public Defender Diane Howard, did not enter a plea.
The Reno resident faces charges of attempted murder, driving under the influence of drugs causing injury or death and auto theft in the Thursday afternoon incident on busy Interstate 80 near Madison Avenue. Michael Ericson, 47, a Marine veteran with 17 years in the CHP, the last six in the patrol’s North Sacramento office, remains in critical but stable condition at a hospital, CHP officials said in a statement Monday morning that followed words of gratitude from Ericson’s family.
We’re here to fight this fight for him that he can’t right now
CHP Officer Jenna Berry, on the courtroom show of support for injured officer Michael Ericson
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“Thank you to everyone for the outpouring of support in light of this horrible attack,” the family’s statement read in part. “All of the support makes a time like this easier and we know it will help Mike heal faster and make a full recovery.”
Ericson has two sons and is engaged to be married.
Inside Román’s jailhouse courtroom, about a dozen CHP officers sat in the first two rows of the gallery, some in civilian clothes, many in the patrol’s khakis, in a show of support for their stricken comrade.
“It’s a group and a family, and we’re working together to get through it. This is Day One in a long process. Our folks are coming together, staying together,” CHP Capt. Andy Williams, Ericson’s North Sacramento patrol commander, told reporters outside the courtroom following the brief afternoon hearing. “Whichever uniform or color you wear, it’s a brother and sisterhood. We take care of each other.”
CHP Officer Jenna Berry has worked with Ericson since 2003, first at the patrol’s Napa office, now in North Sacramento.
“He is a great officer, a great person,” Berry told reporters. “We’re here to fight this fight for him that he can’t right now.”
Ericson was struck on the freeway’s median after either tending to a disabled motorist or performing an enforcement stop, CHP officials said. Investigators say Scott was driving a Ford truck reported stolen in Reno when Ericson was injured. Investigators say Scott then ditched the truck, breaking into a contractor’s work truck before speeding west on I-80.
In 2014, Santa Cruz County prosecutors charged Scott with assault with a deadly weapon against a man and woman while behind the wheel of his Ford pickup truck, driving under the influence of a drug causing injury, and resisting arrest.
The road for Scott ended in Solano County, near Fairfield, with a spike strip, then a swarm of officers, who barricaded the truck with their cruisers.
As Scott stood Monday suspected of critically injuring Ericson, court documents from the Central Coast showed it wasn’t the first time the 28-year-old has been accused of using his vehicle as a weapon.
Less than two years earlier, in August 2014, Santa Cruz County prosecutors charged Scott with assault with a deadly weapon against a man and woman while behind the wheel of his Ford pickup truck, along with driving under the influence of a drug causing injury, and resisting arrest, according to court filings.
Scott pleaded no contest in December 2014 to the driving under the influence allegation and to resisting arrest, according to Santa Cruz Superior Court records.