LA PINE, OR -- A South County man is accused of assaulting an Oregon State Trooper and other charges, stemming from a Saturday night incident in La Pine. The OSP Fish and Wildlife trooper observed an SUV driving along Burgess Road while crossing the center line and speeding. He tried to stop the vehicle for suspicion of impaired driving, at about 10:30 p.m., but the driver took off.
Captain Bill Fugate tells KBND News the man eventually pulled into a driveway on Day Road. "The driver exited the vehicle and started walking towards his house. He failed to obey commends to stop walking, to come back to the trooper. At that point, the trooper recognized the subject as somebody known to be violent; there’s been prior law enforcement contact with that subject. He started ordering the subject to the ground, that he was under arrest. The suspect ignored his commands and turned around and came back towards the trooper in an aggressive manner." He adds, "The trooper deployed his tazer twice, with no effect, he pepper sprayed him, with little effect; and, by this time, the suspect was on top of the trooper and began to assault the trooper, punching him in the face. At the time, the trooper was actually armed with his patrol rifle, and the suspect tried to disarm him – violently tried to rip it from his hands and punching him in the face. The trooper started to defend himself, trying to hold on to his rifle and punching the suspect back in the face, also." Eventually, Dirienzo ran into the house, allegedly taking off through the back. He was finally arrested Monday afternoon during a traffic stop at Burgess and Day Road.
Dirienzo is charged with Robbery in the First Degree, Assaulting a Public Safety Officer, Atempt to Elude (Vehicle and On Foot), Reckless Driving, DUII, Resisting Arrest, and others. He's scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.
Capt. Fugate says the situation could have ended much differently. "As the suspect came towards him, [the trooper] attempted to use less lethal options such as pepper spray and tazer, and it didn’t work. In a situation like that, when somebody is trying to grab your gun, it would be justified for the trooper to use deadly force on something like that; but he showed a great deal of restraint." According to Capt. Fugate, the trooper received minor injuries and will be fine. "Unfortunately, in a situation like this, the trooper could’ve been easily overcome and seriously injured or even killed. It’s a dangerous job and thankfully it ended the way it did and nobody got seriously hurt, so we’re very fortunate."