A California Highway Patrol officer remained in critical condition in intensive care Friday after one surgery and faces additional procedures, CHP officials said.
The officer, Michael Ericson, 47, a 17-year veteran of the CHP, was intentionally run over about 1 p.m. Thursday in the median of Interstate 80 and taken to UC Davis Medical Center, according to the CHP.
It was unclear whether Ericson pulled over to aid a disabled motorist or to conduct an enforcement stop. Andy Williams, commander of the North Sacramento CHP office, said Friday that the incident is still under investigation.
Williams, during a news conference, declined to provide details of what occurred during Thursday’s encounter between the officer and suspect, saying he did not want to jeopardize the investigation and prosecution. The determination that Officer Ericson was intentionally run over, he said, was based on investigators’ findings. The officer’s motorcycle was not equipped with a vehicle camera, Williams said.
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The suspect, Austin Barry Scott, 28, of Reno was booked into Sacramento County jail on Friday. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, assault on a peace officer, vehicle theft, driving under the influence and evading police in a reckless manner. Scott is scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. Monday.
Sharon McIntyre, a firefighter-paramedic with the Sacramento Fire Department, said she was en route to a training class when she came upon the scene and stopped to render aid.
She said at least a dozen people had stopped and were trying to help Ericson. Some, she said, were attempting to use the radio on his motorcycle to report the collision, while others were rendering physical aid.
McIntyre administered medical aid to the officer at the scene and accompanied him on the flight to the hospital.
CHP officials said Ericson, a U.S. Marine veteran, has been assigned to the North Sacramento Office for the past six years. He previously worked in San Francisco, Napa and Solano. He has two sons and is engaged to be married.
The CHP said the vehicle Scott was driving when the officer was injured was a 2001 Ford F350 pickup that was reported stolen Thursday in Reno. That truck was abandoned in a construction zone on westbound I-80, near Northgate Boulevard. There, Scott reportedly stole a pickup belonging to a contractor working on the California Department of Transportation’s “Across the Top” project on Interstate 80.
Williams said the contractor’s vehicle was locked but running at the construction site and the suspect broke a window to enter it. He then fled in the truck heading westbound on I-80, where CHP officers found the stolen pickup and initiated a pursuit. As the pursuit proceeded through Solano County, CHP officers deployed a spike strip, disabling the truck’s rear tire. The stolen pickup stopped on westbound I-80, east of Lyon Road, in the Fairfield area, where Scott was taken into custody by the CHP about 1:50 p.m.
A motorist, Ferris Oliver, of Suisun City recorded Scott’s apprehension on his cellphone through the passenger side window of his vehicle while stopped on I-80 as the arrest went down.
“After I saw that the officer had pulled out his gun, I knew this was serious,” Ferris said. “So I grabbed my phone and pushed ‘record.’ ”
Ferris said officers had barricaded the suspect in the truck to the side of the highway with their vehicles.
“When he saw there was nowhere to go, he just surrendered,” Ferris said.
Westbound lanes of Interstate 80 in Sacramento County were closed for several hours for investigation of the collision.
Williams asked anyone who witnessed the incident in which the officer was injured and who has not been interviewed by investigators to call the CHP’s communications center at 916-861-1300.