An American Fork man who escaped official custody was arrested Friday evening after allegedly stealing a vehicle and leading police on a foot pursuit through residential backyards.
According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest, a Draper man had reported his dark gray Ford F-150 stolen from his residence prior to the arrest. On Friday afternoon, authorities in Saratoga Springs received reports of a suspicious detail where a man in a Burger King parking lot was halfway out of a dark gray truck.
Reports also indicated the man — who was wearing a blue or dark green shirt, shorts and tennis shoes — was conscious and breathing but appeared to be under the influence as he was having difficulty walking.
The reporting parties also told police that there was a glass pipe, consistent with those involved in using methamphetamine, on the ground near the truck, which the man then picked up and put back in the truck. The man left the area, and officers arrived to conduct patrols while trying to locate the vehicle and the man.
An officer in the area observed a dark gray pick-up truck with temporary tags matching the vehicle’s description pull over to the side of the road and passed the vehicle before doing a U-turn. According to arrest documents, when the officer pulled behind the truck, the truck and its driver drove away from police.
While the officer pursued the truck, a separate driver contacted dispatch to report that a truck matching the dark gray Ford F-150 was tailgating and driving recklessly when it hit the reporting party’s vehicle and left the scene.
During the pursuit, the truck allegedly reached speeds of 80-100 mph on roads zoned with a 50 mph limit. Due to the speed at which the truck was traveling, and reports that the driver might be impaired, the officer opted to terminate the pursuit as the driver allegedly ran through a red light while attempting to flee.
Hours later, an officer with the Lehi Police Department was filling up his marked patrol vehicle at a Maverick in Saratoga Springs when a citizen approached him and reported that a male jogging up the road was a suspect from a stolen vehicle incident out of Draper, according to the probable cause affidavit.
The officer went to make contact with the man who was jogging when he ran away from the officer and failed to obey commands. The Lehi officer entered into a foot pursuit with the man, who jumped over the fence of a residential home before running through the yard and jumping another fence.
The man then ran toward the roadway of the residential area before the officer was able to stop and detain him. During a search of his person, according to arrest documents, officers discovered a glass pipe with burnt residue consistent with methamphetamine.
Authorities transported the man, positively identified as 26-year-old Austin Russell, to the Saratoga Springs police department for further questioning after he was cleared by medical personnel at the scene.
During an interview with police, Russell allegedly said he was on a Tinder date with a girl who had driven him south to show him a spot on the lake, stating that the date had gone poorly and she had dropped him off.
He told police he was walking home when the Lehi officer approached him, adding that he had no recollection of being around a Burger King, being involved in a hit-and-run collision, fleeing from police, or stealing and driving around a pick-up truck. Russell said he ran from the Lehi officer because he “didn’t want to go back to jail,” according to the probable cause statement.
Russell was a wanted fugitive out of Woods Cross with active warrants for his arrest, including escaping from official custody, failure to respond to the commands of police, possession of a controlled substance within a correctional facility, reckless driving and theft. Russell’s driver’s license was also revoked.
Authorities made contact with the man who flagged down the Lehi officer while on scene. The man told police he was the owner of the truck Russell was seen driving, and through social media postings or other information, he had discovered the truck was last seen south of Saratoga Springs.
The man told police he decided to travel south on State Road 68, but saw the man while traveling north of S.R. 68. According to the probable cause statement, the man said Russell was wearing a baseball hat with the logo of his private business, adding that very few hats were made and believed Russell had stolen the hat out of his truck.
The citizen said he pulled over and offered Russell a ride. Russell then allegedly requested to be dropped off at Maverick. When the man pulled into the Maverick, Russell allegedly exited the vehicle quickly and began running just before the man was able to make contact with the Lehi officer.
Russell was taken into custody under suspicion of third-degree felony failure to respond to officers’ signal to stop, third-degree felony unlawful control of a vehicle with damage exceeding $500, class A misdemeanor failure to stop at command of law enforcement officer, class A misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, class B misdemeanor criminal trespass, class B misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia and class B misdemeanor accident involving property damage.
He is currently being held at the Utah County Jail.