Low speed chase far more dangerous than it seemed
January 5, 2023
By Mike Weland
Bonners Ferry police officer Scott Davis was traveling north on Highway 95 at about 7:51 p.m. when a white Chevrolet Equinox pulled behind him near the NAPA Auto Parts store, headlights on high beams so bright he could barely see anything in his rear view mirrors. The rig followed him to Kootenai Street. About half an hour earlier, a traffic complaint was broadcast of a white SUV driving recklessly, swerving into the southbound lane on Highway 95 in front of Safeway and driving in the wrong lane to Chinook Street north of the Kootenai River Bridge.
Davis attempted to pull the vehicle over in front of Bonners Ferry City Hall for failure to dim the headlights and recognized the driver, Ian Geoff Mason. He could see Mason glancing back at him in the driver's side mirror, but despite the lights and siren, Mason continued and made a left on Bonner Street before stopping abruptly in the city parking lot.
Based on past experience with Mason and suspecting he was impaired based on his erratic driving and failure to heed lights and siren, Davis ordered him out of the vehicle, but Mason failed to comply. A few moments later, BFPD sergeant Willie Cowell arrived on scene and Mason continued ignoring officer's orders before suddenly taking off, accelerating dangerously through cars parked in the lot, turning east on Kootenai Street and then south on Highway 95 and into moderate traffic.
Cowell immediately took up pursuit, followed by Davis. Sheriff's deputies David Wion and Dave Schuman soon fell in behind as Mason he drove at speeds topping out at about 40 miles per hour, continually giving the finger to officers in pursuit through his partially open window.
Mason swerved east on Alderson Lane, stopping traffic in both directions, turned into Dyck's Oil and Auto and breaking into traffic without slowing, once again headed north on Highway 95. Deputy Wion, still southbound, attempted to block, but Mason pulled an abrupt U-turn and took off south, coming close to a pedestrian in the Augusta Street crossing.
He turned east off the highway on LaBrosse Hill Road, icy and snow covered, and tried three times to brake-check Cowell, once causing him to lose traction as he braked to avoid a rear-end collision. Turning off on McCall, Mason once again headed north on Highway 95, travelling at about 30 miles per hour but seemingly oblivious to traffic or pedestrians.
He turned off on Lincoln Street, onto Denver and, now travelling between five and 10 miles per hour, back onto Highway 95, travelling south. Cowell attempted a PIT maneuver, bumping the rear quarter panel with his bumper in an attempt to force the vehicle being pursued into a skid. Mason corrected and continued south before entering the Super 1 parking lot by Subway, weaving through cars and pedestrians before once again turning north on Highway 95.
Turning west on Riverside Street, Mason again headed downtown on Main Street, where pedestrians were present and vehicles lined both sides of the street. On Bonner Street, Cowell again attempted a PIT maneuver, but Mason again corrected. Cowell made a third attempt on Kootenai Street, when he pushed the Equinox sideways and onto the sidewalk, allowing Davis to apply his bumper to the front end of Mason's rig, but Mason, yelling out expletives, managed to get back on the road, and he again got on the highway headed south, Davis now leading the pursuit.
Mason turned off again on LaBrosse Hill Road and once again made his way back to the highway, travelling north.
But Schuman had dropped out of the chase, peeling away in anticipation of Mason's next move and laying a spike strip in the highway at Walker Lane. Mason hit the strip, blowing out at least both front tires, but still he continued north until turning into the parking lot at Nom Nom's, just avoiding both vehicles and pedestrians as he tried to get back on the highway.
Davis put his bumper on the passenger door and pushed the Chevy into a snow bank, pinning it and ending the pursuit, but not the confrontation. Pistol drawn, Davis once again ordered Mason to show his hands and step out of the vehicle, once again Mason refused. Looking into the broken drivers side window, Davis saw that Mason was unarmed, so he holstered his pistol and drew his Taser, moving to the hood and facing Mason.
U.S. Border Patrol agent Joseph Bowen arrived at the driver's side door and attempted to open it, but Mason pulled it shut and locked it. Davis fired his taser through the driver's window, hitting Mason in the chest, but Mason ripped it out. Davis hit him again, this time in the neck, immobilizing him.
With Mason screaming, "I didn't do anything wrong," he was unbuckled and pulled from the vehicle and cuffed.
With Mason safely restrained and in Davis's patrol rig, Davis went to find the registration for Mason's SUV, and saw, in plain sight in the center console, a vial of THC oil. Before being transported to jail, Davis took Mason, complaining of chest pains and whose family member was on scene and said he had not been taking his medications, to Boundary Community Hospital, where he was medically cleared and refused a blood test.
Charged with eluding a peace officer, a felony, and DUI, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, resisting or obstructing and DUI, he remains in custody in lieu of $10,000 bond, with preliminary hearing set for 1:30 p.m. Friday, January 13, before Judge Justin Julian.
Mike Weland, Publisher
6931 Main St.
6619 Kaniksu St., Rm 19
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
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