Crime - Sacto 911

Man to stand trial, accused of running over CHP officer

Austin Scott
Austin Scott Sacramento

Austin Barry Scott will face trial in September on a charge of attempting to kill a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer on Interstate 80 near Madison Avenue in April.

Officials said he intentionally ran over the officer with a stolen pickup truck.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White handed down the decision Friday after a daylong preliminary hearing in the April 7 incident that gravely injured north area patrolman Michael Ericson. Trial was set for Sept. 20.

The Friday hearing came a week after Ericson, 47, a 17-year highway patrolman, was released from UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. He continues to recover at home. Scott, 28, also is charged with felony hit-and-run causing permanent injury, assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily injury, felony evading and auto theft, all from the same April incident. He remains without bail at Sacramento County Main Jail.

Officers detailed the harrowing scene after one of their own was rammed and crushed underneath a pickup truck driven by Scott and the breakneck three-county chase down Interstate 80 that ended with Scott’s arrest near Fairfield.

One was CHP Officer Robert DiMiceli, who along with Ericson received radio calls of a traffic collision on the interstate near the Greenback Lane exit. DiMiceli first spotted the pickup parked westbound on the center median, and Ericson, early into his shift, volunteered to check it out.

Within minutes, a call sounded that an officer was down beside his motorcycle in the roadway. It was Ericson, DiMiceli testified, and he was badly hurt, his injuries as grave as any DiMiceli had seen in nearly 29 years on patrol.

“In all the years I’ve been doing this, the look in Mike’s eyes – I was truly under the impression he was going to die,” DiMiceli said, recalling how he stayed at Ericson’s side and called in a CHP helicopter to airlift the officer to UC Davis Medical Center. “It was quite a chaotic scene,” DiMiceli said.

In afternoon testimony, another patrolman, Officer Joseph Phipps, said he recently met with Ericson and detailed the injuries that nearly killed the veteran motor officer: a shattered pelvis, a broken left hip and right arm, a broken right thumb as well as injuries that required doctors to place a stent in his carotid artery. It may be months before Ericson is able to walk again, Phipps said.

Patrol investigators who interviewed dozens of witnesses said they saw Ericson waving his arms at the blue Ford pickup as its driver threw the truck into reverse, accelerated, then ran over the motorcycle officer with such force that the truck’s undercarriage was visible to passing motorists.

Washoe County, Nevada, investigators testified that Scott’s mother told them Scott was staying at her Reno-area home and made off with her 1990s-model Ford while she slept early April 7. Investigators said she told them Scott had tried unsuccessfully to break into his mother’s gun safe the night before.

Investigators say that after running over Ericson near Madison Avenue, Scott ditched the truck for a contractor’s work truck and led pursuers on a high-speed chase into Yolo and Solano counties.

Phipps said that Scott took to the center divider at speeds nearing 100 mph, drove onto the roadway’s shoulder and zigzagged through traffic to evade authorities, clipping a tractor-trailer before crashing into an embankment.

Scott was captured after he climbed out of the truck’s passenger-side window.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith

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