Suspected Impaired Driver Hits Patrol Cars, Flees, and Crashes into Truck
Spokane Valley Deputies arrested a suspected impaired driver after hitting two patrol vehicles as he fled the scene. With suspicion of DUI falling under the limited exceptions where pursuits are allowed under the new legislative law enforcement reforms, Deputies were authorized to pursue the fleeing suspect. The suspect chose to continue his attempt to elude Deputies as he drove recklessly. He was arrested after blowing through a red light at an intersection and crashing into an uninvolved motorist. Thankfully, the two occupants of the victim's vehicle received only minor injuries.
On December 1, 2021, at approximately 12:20 a.m., Spokane Valley Deputies responded to the 1700 block of N. Glenn Ct. for a suspicious vehicle.
A caller reported an unknown vehicle arrived and parked in front of their home. The car appeared to have a temporary plate in the rear window, damage on the driver’s side, and possibly a broken window. It was unknown if the vehicle was unoccupied or if someone was sitting in the passenger’s seat.
Deputy McKenzie, Deputy French, Deputy Pfeiffer, and his partner K9 Apache responded to the location to investigate.
They found the vehicle was occupied by a male driver, later identified as 21-year-old Justus L. Armijo-Wilkins, and an adult female seated in the front passenger’s seat. Both appeared to be sleeping, but as Deputies noticed items commonly used with illicit drug use (possibly opioids), they began to suspect the pair were passed out. A check of the VIN showed it had not been reported as stolen.
Two patrol cars were placed at the front and rear of the suspect's vehicle to try and block any attempt to flee. Even with emergency lights flashing and Deputies talking at a normal level, neither occupant seemed to react or gain consciousness.
A short time later, Justus began to stir and partially opened his eyes. Deputy McKenzie, standing at the driver’s side door, loudly identified himself. With the window already down, Justus clearly should have heard Deputy McKenzie, but he did not respond. When asked if he had identification, Justus mumbled something similar to “Yeah” but did not attempt to locate it. Justus began moving around when he was explicitly asked for his ID. When Justus did speak, he talked slowly and slurred his speech. His eyes were watery, and his eyelids were droopy, all possible further indications Justus was under the influence of an intoxicant/controlled substance.
During the contact, Justus reached up and started the car despite several orders to the contrary. Justus, with a very blank look, stared at Deputy McKenzie, appearing not to understand. Attempts to stop Justus by reaching through the window to open the driver’s side door failed because Justus rolled the window up.
Justus put the vehicle in gear and began moving it forward and backward, hitting the patrol car’s reinforced bumpers as he repositioned the vehicle to flee despite orders to stop. He finally was able to squeeze past, accelerated, and slammed into a set of mailboxes as he attempted to escape.
The Deputies returned to their vehicles as they provided the information to additional units and their Sergeant, who authorized the pursuit, per RCW.
With little to no traffic on the road, Deputies pursued Justus, who continued to drive recklessly, ignored traffic signals at several intersections and without headlights. Justus initially fled down a dead-end and turned around, placing him head-on with pursuing Deputies. Both Deputies said Justus accelerated and drove toward their fully marked patrol cars, with emergency lights activated, causing them to take evasive emergency actions to avoid a collision.
Now southbound on University, approaching 32nd Avenue, Deputies observed the light at the intersection was red. They slowed, also noting via radio Justus began to slow but did not stop before entering the intersection where he collided with an uninvolved motorist, causing that vehicle to roll on its side.
Deputies attended to the two occupants (one adult/one juvenile) of the victim’s vehicle while others attempted to get Justus and the female passenger to follow commands. Neither Justus nor the female passenger followed instructions, and with their view heavily obstructed due to the deployment of the vehicle’s airbags, the Deputies maintained a safe distance. With no response and not knowing if Justus was armed, Deputy Pfeifer removed his K9 partner Apache from his patrol car, placed him on a long lead, and began giving K9 announcements/warnings. After several and as K9 Apache began barking, confirming his presence, Justus opened the driver’s door and began to communicate. Both were subsequently taken into custody without further incident.
The two victims from the vehicle Justus crashed into received minor cuts and abrasions and were provided medical attention at the scene. The female passenger of Justus’ was not injured and was later released at the scene without charges.
Justus was transported to the hospital for medical treatment before being transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for Attempting to Elude a Law Enforcement Vehicle, two counts of Assault 2nd Degree, Malicious Mischief 3rd Degree, and DUI.