Fugitive who escaped from police car captured after putting up fight

Published: Thursday, Aug. 2 2012 12:16 p.m. MDT

MURRAY — A man who has been on the run since escaping from police custody two weeks ago was recaptured early Thursday, but not without putting up a fight.

Joseph Lee Chatwin, 40, led members of the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team on a car chase, tried to carjack a second vehicle and had to be subdued with a Taser and police K-9 before finally being taken into custody, officers said.

"This guy did everything he could to escape. He obviously knew we were aggressively looking for him," said JCAT commander Jim Phelps with the U.S. Marshal's Service.

Law enforcers have been looking for Chatwin since July 17 when he escaped from police custody. Chatwin and Shauntae Leah Stratton, 23, had just been arrested and were being placed into a holding cell at the Farmington Police Department.

But while Stratton was being placed in a cell, officers said Chatwin kicked out a rear passenger window of the police car he was in, crawled out and ran. Stratton was also able to escape a short time later by apparently picking the lock of the holding cell. She was recaptured a short time later. Both were wanted for investigation of numerous car burglaries and thefts.

Phelps said for the past two weeks, JCAT agents have been keeping surveillance on several locations where Chatwin might show up, particularly in the Cottonwood Heights and Sandy areas where a man on a black bullet bike had led police on chases for the past several nights, including Wednesday night.

After the latest chase with Sandy police, JCAT set up surveillance on several Sandy locations. About 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Chatwin arrived in a stolen vehicle near 700 East and 9800 South. Officers surrounded the home and waited for him to leave again, which Chatwin did about 1 a.m. Thursday. A woman also got into the passenger seat of his vehicle.

As soon as he left, officers tried to pull him over, but Chatwin kept driving, Phelps said. Tire spikes were set up and flattened one of his front tires. But Chatwin allegedly continued driving recklessly, driving into oncoming traffic and running red lights.

JCAT agents called off their pursuit because of concern for public safety but were able to set up more tire spikes, which flattened the other front tire on Chatwin's vehicle, Phelps said. Chatwin drove until both front wheels were on their rims, causing sparks to fly on the road, he said.

Near 4800 S. State, Chatwin got out and ran toward another vehicle stopped at the light. "He bailed out and immediately went over to a lady parked at the red light, opened her door and tried to get into her vehicle," Phelps said.

Just as he opened the car door, JCAT officers grabbed Chatwin and attempted to arrest him. That's when Chatwin allegedly reached for a gun he was carrying in his front waistband. Two JCAT officers deployed Tasers on Chatwin and a police K-9 bit him.

"It was very dynamic. We're talking split seconds here. This unfolded very, very fast," Phelps said.

Because the would-be carjacking victim was nearby, officers did not use their guns, he said.

A member of JCAT was also accidentally bitten by the police K-9 during the chaotic situation.

Chatwin was taken to a local hospital to be treated for the dog bite. Phelps said law enforcers weren't taking any chances this time and used extra restraints on Chatwin to prevent him from kicking out another car window and running.

He was then sent straight to the Utah State Prison on a parole violation. The woman in the car did not run once the car was stopped. She was questioned and released, Phelps said.

Phelps said he would also likely face a long list of new charges, including assault on an officer and armed carjacking. Investigators said they also found methamphetamine inside his stolen vehicle.

Chatwin has an extensive criminal history, according to Utah court records, including convictions for attempted aggravated assault, theft and forgery.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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