On August 5, 2016, Spokane Valley and Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies apprehended 36-year-old Stephen L. Murphy shortly after he rammed a Spokane Valley Patrol vehicle and was eventually stopped. Murphy continued his attempt to flee and was captured with the assistance of K9 Laslo. Murphy was arrested for several charges to include Attempting to Elude Law Enforcement, Assault 2nd Degree, Assault 3rd Degree, Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, Unlawful Imprisonment (DV), Hit and Run, Driving while Suspended and Obstructing Law Enforcement.
The incident began at approximately 10:40 p.m., when Spokane Valley K9 Corporal Jeff Thurman noticed a Lexus traveling northbound on Mullan at a high rate of speed. As Corporal Thurman caught up to the Lexus, he noticed a truck pulling a tow dolly in front of the Lexus. The truck swerved onto East Cataldo, accelerated and ran the clearly posted stop sign at North Argonne as its speeds reach 60 mph in a posted 25 mph zone.
With the driver of the truck’s extremely dangerous and reckless driving, Corporal Thurman caught up to it and activated his emergency lights and siren near Bessie Road. The driver of the truck, later identified as Murphy, failed to stop and continued to drive at a high rate of speed.
With Corporal Thurman in pursuit and several additional units responding to setup spike strips and block intersections to warn citizens, Murphy continued running stop signs and driving at excessive speeds as he tried to flee.
In the area of McDonald and 16th Avenue, Sergeant Whapeles successfully deployed a set of spike strips. Near Blake and 27th, the truck struck a Department of Transportation “No Trespassing” sign causing it to break and go to the ground. The truck spun around, nearly striking Corporal Thurman, causing him to swerve to avoid a head-on collision. As Murphy continued to accelerate rapidly and spin the trucks tires through a yard in the 2800 block of South Blake, he hit a utility box, drove through some shrubs and rammed Corporal Nathan Bohanek’s patrol vehicle. Murphy made no attempt to avoid the collision and continued to flee westbound.
With a large amount of patrol vehicles now in the area, Murphy was stopped in the area of 28th Avenue and SR 27. Instead of giving up, Murphy bailed out of the vehicle and began to flee on foot. Corporal Thurman yelled at Murphy to stop and that he was under arrest as Corporal Thurman retrieved K9 Laslo from his vehicle. Murphy refused to follow commands and continued to run as Corporal Thurman sent K9 Laslo to stop him.
K9 Laslo contacted Murphy’s leg as Murphy tried to jump a fence into the backyard of a residence. Even as K9 Laslo continued to stop Murphy’s flight, Murphy continued to resist and failed to follow commands to show his hands. When Corporal Thurman moved in to gain control of K9 Laslo, Murphy grabbed Corporal Thurman’s vest and began thrashing back on forth. Murphy continued to thrash as he began to pull Corporal Thurman towards him. Murphy began grabbing in the area of Corporal Thurman’s backup weapon, causing the rapidly evolving situation to become even more intense. Additional Deputies arrived and had to physically restrain Murphy as he continued to fight and refuse to release his grip on Corporal Thurman. Eventually, the deputies gained control of Murphy and he was placed in handcuffs.
After being advised of his rights, Murphy said he thought he was being stopped for no tail lights on the trailer. He also stated he thought the truck might be stolen since he traded some methamphetamine for it. Murphy said he didn’t mean to hit Corporal Bohanek’s vehicle, he was just trying to get away.
The adult passenger in Murphy’s vehicle was not involved other than being an unwilling passenger. Murphy would not let her out of the vehicle even though yelling at him to stop.
The truck was confirmed as stolen from an A to Z Rental burglary reported on July 25, 2016.
Murphy received medical treatment before being booked into the Spokane County Jail. He was booked for the following charges: Attempting to Elude Law Enforcement, Assault 2nd Degree, Assault 3rd Degree, Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, Unlawful Imprisonment (DV), Hit and Run, Driving while Suspended and Obstructing Law Enforcement.
The damage to the patrol vehicle was estimated to be $3000-$4000. Thankfully, none of the deputies or citizens who witnessed Murphy’s extremely dangerous actions were injured.