Freeway chase led to ex-Nev. lawmaker's arrest

By Michelle Rindels

Associated Press

Published: Friday, March 29 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

California Highway Patrol officers draw their weapons as they arrest ex-Nevada Assemblyman Steven Brooks, Friday, March 29, 2013, in Victorville, Calif. Brooks led police on a chase from Barstow, Calif., until his tires were spiked in Victorville, Calif. Brooks was arrested on charges including resisting arrest and throwing objects, just hours after he became the first lawmaker ever expelled from the Nevada Legislature.

Jennifer Simpson, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — A former Nevada state lawmaker who had been expelled from the Assembly hours earlier led authorities in California on a high-speed freeway chase before he was shocked with a stun gun and arrested on charges including resisting arrest, authorities said Friday.

Steven Brooks, 41, was arrested at about 7 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 15 outside the city of Victorville, after a 15-mile chase that began in Barstow and exceeded speeds of 80 mph, California Highway Patrol Officer Don Spiker said.

Police had responded to a disagreement between Brooks and a tow truck operator called to help Brooks fix a flat tire in Barstow.

"We just know the tow truck driver was uncomfortable enough to call us for assistance," Spiker said. "He said the subject was acting strange."

Barstow Police Chief Albert Ramirez said in a statement that Brooks refused to pay the driver and wouldn't provide him with identification.

Brooks' arrest came after he became the first lawmaker in Nevada history to be expelled from the Legislature.

It disappointed his lawyer, who has been representing Brooks through a series of sometimes bizarre legal and psychological incidents since January, and who had been fighting to keep the two-term Democratic state lawmaker in his elected seat representing a North Las Vegas district.

"We had started to discuss possible next steps," attorney Mitchell Posin said, referring to a conversation he said he had with Brooks after Brooks' expulsion from the Assembly. Colleagues cited safety concerns.

"Next thing I know, I heard about this," Posin said.

Posin said he had no details about the arrest, or about why Brooks was on the interstate in Barstow.

Brooks was arrested near the Stoddard Wells Road exit after leading officers on the chase with a flat tire, authorities said.

A witness, 30-year-old Jennifer Simpson, said she was alerted by police helicopters overhead and saw a red four-door SUV hit what appeared to be spike strips on the freeway and veer to the side of the road.

The driver got out of the vehicle but didn't follow police commands to turn around and put his hands in the air, said Simpson, who lives in an apartment near the interstate in Victorville. The man ran back toward the SUV, chased by a police dog, she said.

Simpson said the driver shut himself in the vehicle before several officers with guns drawn pulled him out. She said she saw at least one officer punch the man several times.

Simpson's husband videotaped the last four minutes of the struggle, in which uniformed officers wrestle the driver to the ground in front of the vehicle and an officer in a tan uniform raises his arms three times in apparent punching motions. The man cannot be seen on the ground.

Kris Reilly, city editor of The Daily Press in Victorville, said he heard police scanner reports of the chase and arrived at the scene with a photographer to see a man in dark clothing on a hospital gurney. He said the man was struggling against wrist and ankle restraints as he was loaded into an ambulance.

"He was yelling something to the effect that, 'These cops are going down!'" Reilly said. "He was yelling quite a bit."

Ramirez released a statement alleging that Brooks choked and hit a police dog with a socket wrench inside the vehicle. The dog, named Buck, was treated by a veterinarian for cuts on the head and leg.

"Brooks continued to resist the officers and not comply with their orders," the Barstow police statement said. "A Taser was utilized on Brooks and after this, handcuffs were applied."

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