Video: Air 1 Follows Fleeing Vehicle, Safely Guides Officers to the Suspect’s Location
Spokane Regional Air Support Unit (SRASU) Air 1 was on a scheduled patrol flight when they heard a Spokane Police Department (SPD) Officer advise over the radio that a GMC pickup was fleeing from a traffic stop. The SPD Officer did not pursue the fleeing vehicle due to Washington State law which prohibits police pursuits with few exceptions.
In the area, the flight crew quickly located the truck and easily followed it while providing real-time location information as the driver continued on his way for over ten minutes. Once the driver pulled over, parked, and began to walk away, Air 1 continued to guide ground Officers, who were following at a slow and safe distance, to the suspect's exact location, and he was arrested.
On January 19, 2023, Spokane Regional Air Support Unit Air 1 was on a regularly scheduled patrol flight when they heard radio traffic from an SPD Officer advising a GMC pickup was fleeing from a traffic stop in the area of Nevada and Wellesley.
Air 1 crews, who were close to the area, began trying to locate the fleeing truck. SPD Officers were not pursuing the suspect as police pursuits are prohibited per Washington State law, with few exceptions.
Using Air 1’s camera system equipped with FLIR, they located the suspect’s truck and began tracking its location from a safe distance, high above. The driver continued driving for over ten minutes on side streets and down alleyways.
The driver, later identified as 25-year-old Brendan R. Pierce, finally pulled over and abandoned the GMC near the 2200 block of W. Fairview Avenue. With Air 1 orbiting overhead, Pierce exited the truck and walked away. Air 1 continued providing real-time location information as SPD Officers closed in.
SPD Officers located Pierce and safely took him into custody after a short foot pursuit. Pierce, a multi-time convicted felon prohibited from legally possessing firearms, was charged with several felony and misdemeanor crimes. (Attempt to Elude, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm 1st Degree, Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell/Deliver, DUI, Driving while Suspended, Obstructing and Resisting Arrest.
The attached video has been shortened for time.
About the Spokane Regional Air Support Unit
The Spokane Regional Air Support Unit is comprised of Volunteer Pilots, Tactical Flight Officers (TFOs) from local law enforcement agencies, and Helicopter Rescue Medics (HRMs), certified EMTs with Spokane Valley Fire Department.
TFOs: Deputies and Officers from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, Spokane Valley Police Department, Spokane Police Department, and the Liberty Lake Police Department.
Air 1 and Air 2: Two OH-58’s equipped with Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR), which allows aircrews to detect heat on the ground. FLIR can be used to locate both missing people and hiding fugitives. Air-1 and Air-2 are also equipped with a 30 million candle power searchlight, GPS moving map system, and the flight crews are equipped with night vision goggles. In addition, Air-1 is fitted with a downlink that transmits live video from the helicopter to the Mobile Command Vehicle. The microwave downlink allows police and fire staff to see real-time video from the helicopter and make timely decisions based on what they see.
Rescue 3: A Bell UH-1H Super Huey is equipped with a long line and hoist system for short-haul rescue missions. The long line and hoist system allow our Tactical Flight Medics and Tactical Flight Officers to be lowered from Rescue 3 to retrieve a citizen that is either injured or lost in remote areas. The primary mission for Rescue 3 is search and rescue.