Man who allegedly stole police car was intoxicated, police say
SOUTH SALT LAKE — The man investigators say stole a police car and crashed it into two other vehicles, seriously injuring two, had approached officers before allegedly taking the vehicle and appeared intoxicated and beat up.
New details emerged Tuesday about 20-year-old Ryan Troy Cooke's alleged destructive car ride. Cooke was arrested Sunday and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of charges including theft, DUI causing serious injury, obstruction of justice and fleeing resulting in serious injury.
Minutes after stealing a South Salt Lake police car, Cooke allegedly smashed into the back of a vehicle stopped at a red light at 3300 South and 500 East, sending the vehicle into a tree, police said.
Eric Peterson and an 18-year-old woman, both from Nevada, were injured. Peterson, 22, remained in critical condition, while the woman was released from the hospital Monday, Keller said.
Darcy Casady, 52, was hit in a third vehicle while going through the intersection and was in stable condition Monday. Officials said she may be released from the hospital Tuesday.
The incident began about 3 a.m. Sunday at the Flying J, 2100 S. 900 West, where three South Salt Lake officers were finishing a meal. One officer was at the cashier paying his bill when Cooke entered. He had a bloody lip and nose, said South Salt Lake officer Gary Keller.
Cooke approached the officer to tell him he had been assaulted.
The officer noted that Cooke was "obviously intoxicated," according to a Salt Lake County Jail report.
"Ryan smelled of alcohol. He had slurred, slow speech and difficulty articulating himself. Ryan shuffled his feet as he walked and used his arms as balance when he walked," the report stated.
At first, Cooke asked the officer if he could help him, saying he had gotten, "into a fight at a club," Keller said. When the officer asked what club, he indicated the Flying J.
Shortly after talking to the man, however, "in the middle of all this, his whole demeanor changes, and he starts to walk away," Keller said. The man told officers he didn't want their help and was almost confrontational about it, he said.
The officer and one of his partners followed him outside to see if there was a person in the parking lot who might have assaulted the man, he said.
While this was happening, the third officer walked out. Keller said he saw the two officers trying to talk to the man but didn't know the status of the encounter. The officer opened the door of his patrol car with his key chain remote as he walked toward his vehicle and lost sight of Cooke, who was walking between cars, Keller said.
"They hear a door slam … the guy is in the car and backing out," he said.
The other officers followed in their own patrol cars and watched as Cooke sped into the intersection of 500 East and 3300 South, hitting two vehicles, the report said.
Cooke resisted arrest after the collision as officers attempted to handcuff him, the report stated.
Cooke has a record of past convictions. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in April in exchange for charges of domestic violence in the presence of a child and failing to appear in court being dismissed, according to Utah State Court records.
In May, he pleaded guilty to similar charges of assault and domestic violence in the presence of a child, in exchange for two other domestic violence charges being dismissed, according to court records.
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