Jan 2, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterThe U.S. Attorney's office has charged a man with assault on a federal officer for punching and driving into a Wind River Police Department vehicle on Dec. 23. After the officer was struck, WRPD reportedly shot at the defendant, Owen John Brown, chased him down and apprehended him.
A Fremont County Sheriff's Office statement said WRPD reported shots were fired at officers as the incident was in progress. Deputies responded but found WRPD already had Brown, 20, of the Wind River Indian Reservation, in custody when they arrived.
An affidavit in the case stated that WRPD officer Jose Valdez was driving south on 17 Mile Road behind a black 2003 Hyundai Sonata when the Hyundai sedan swerved across the center line of the road. Valdez called dispatch with the license plate number and learned the vehicle was registered to Brown, who was wanted on a tribal arrest warrant.
Valdez turned on his siren and emergency lights, but the sedan did not stop until it pulled onto a dirt driveway near 100 C'Hair Lane.
Seeing four people in the car, Valdez called for backup, and WRPD Officer Michael Justice came to help.
The two officers removed occupants from the back seat of the sedan before telling Brown, in the front passenger seat to step out of the car. After several requests, Brown did exit the vehicle.
Valdez tried to restrain Brown in order to search him for weapons, the affidavit stated, but the defendant did not cooperate.
Brown yelled an obscenity and threw a right-handed punch to Valdez's face, knocking the officer backward, according to the document.
Justice fired his Taser at Brown, but missed, the affidavit stated, and Brown got back in the sedan. Valdez moved to the front of the car and pointed his firearm at Brown while Justice continued to order Brown and the person in the driver's seat out of the vehicle.
The driver stepped out, and Brown slid over behind the wheel. Brown started the car, put it in drive and accelerated into Valdez, striking him in the right leg, according to the affidavit. Valdez backed up and fired his service weapon at Brown, and Justice fired his gun at the defendant as well.
Brown turned the car to the right and tried to flee the scene, but Justice got into his patrol vehicle and gave chase. The officer apprehended the defendant just south of the scene of the shooting.
Valdez stated he thought Brown was trying to run him over and kill him, according to the affidavit.
The document did not state whether the officers struck Brown with their shots, but a U.S Attorney's Office spokesman said the defendant has been in a Denver recovering from injuries.
The charge he faces carries a maximum penalty of eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Court documents indicate Brown was in custody being transferred back to Wyoming on Dec. 31, but a trial date had not been set.
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