Sheriff Shane Nelson says he initiated that pursuit on May ninth, "I was coming back from a meeting in Redmond when the traffic complaint came out. I pulled over and I saw the suspect, and I determined that he was impaired." That traffic complaint came from Oregon State Police, which reported a man driving erratically, possibly under the influence and suicidal. Nelson can be seen trying to force the suspect vehicle off the road near Tumalo; his voice is heard on radio dispatches, "Watch out, he’s in the oncoming lane, there. Okay, we’ve got to stop him so I’m going to try and box him in."
Nelson says the decision to chase a suspect is never easy, "Constantly balance the risk of the apprehension and the benefit. And, in this particular case, you had a male who was high and driving under the influence of intoxicants and reported to be suicidal." He adds, "The entire time of that pursuit, I’m going through my head and thinking about my training and experience and case law, and trying to determine what’s best. We tried to spike strip the vehicle several times, with no success, so I was just trying to use vehicle intervention to get the suspect to stop so we could take him into custody." In the video, the suspect's SUV is seen swerving in to oncoming traffic to avoid those spike strips. "My vehicle actually was spike stripped," the Sheriff tells KBND News. He's heard over the radio saying, "Okay; I just got the spikes, there. I’m gonna back off just a little bit. We’re coming up on Empire and I’m out." He later tells other officers to stop chasing the subject. He says, "The pursuit was discontinued when it did get into Bend and a little bit more populated."
Officers continued to search for the vehicle and tracked it to an area near NE Second and Butler Market. As law enforcement approached, they say Zenler Clairmont drove the SUV through a fence, crashing into the Bend patrol car, which was part of the police perimeter set up during the search.
Images from dash-cam footage: (top) Sheriff Shane Nelson is seen attempting a "PIT" maneuver to try to stop the suspect vehicle.
(above) Nelson's car is seen pulled over on the shoulder after running over Bend Police spike strips.