A man who allegedly fled from a Beaumont police officer while that officer was partially inside the suspect’s van, then threw a power drill at the lawman’s patrol car during the ensuing high-speed chase, must stand trial on charges that include assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and evading arrest, a judge ruled Monday.
Justin Forrest Westmontgomery, 36, of Yucca Valley, is accused in the Aug. 9, 2017, pursuit that reached speeds of around 120 mph and ended with a rollover crash in Beaumont, according to authorities.
Westmontgomery was allegedly stopped near Beaumont and Brookside avenues by a Beaumont officer at around 1:15 a.m. The officer said he believed the van Westmontgomery was driving matched one connected to a string of vehicle break-ins, according to court documents.
Though Westmontgomery told the officer that he had just left a friend’s house, the officer alleged that after “I confronted him and told him I believed he was breaking into cars,” Westmontgomery started driving “while my upper body was still inside the vehicle.”
The officer said he struck the defendant in the head and neck with a flashlight and injured his right hand and ring finger while trying to keep Westmontgomery from driving away. He was able to free himself, but was clipped in the right leg and foot as Westmontgomery sped away, according to the declaration.
The officer gave chase in his patrol car, pursuing the suspect for about nine miles in which Westmontgomery occasionally drove in opposing traffic lanes with his headlights off, according to the declaration. At some point during the chase, the officer alleged that Westmontgomery threw a power drill out of the window while going 80 mph. The drill struck the front of the officer’s patrol car.
The chase ended near Oak Valley Parkway and Desert Lawn Drive, when Westmontgomery’s van crashed into a light pole, rolled over three times, and landed in a dirt field near the Interstate 10 overpass, according to the officer. Westmontgomery was hospitalized, though the extent of his injuries was not disclosed.
According to the officer, “several keys that had obvious shave and grind marks” used to break into vehicles were found inside and around the wrecked van, along with stolen items that included a Riverside correctional employee’s ID card.
The suspect was also held to answer Monday for a separate vehicle theft out of Banning, in which he also allegedly fled from officers.
On April 25, 2017, officers attempted to stop Westmontgomery at around 1 a.m. near the intersection of North San Gorgonio Avenue and Williams Street, but he made a U-turn and sped off a short distance, before abandoning the Honda Civic he was driving and running away, court documents state.
He was eventually detained and told officers that he had borrowed the car from a friend. Police say the Honda’s owner said he did not know Westmontgomery and that he’d left the car parked in front of his home, where it was stolen.
Westmontgomery is slated to return to court June 25 for a post-preliminary hearing arraignment.