LAS VEGAS (AP) — 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.”
The police report does not describe any police officers being injured and doesn’t address whether any officers punched Brooks.
Telephone messages for Ramirez and other Barstow police supervisors weren’t immediately returned.
Brooks was examined at Barstow Community Hospital before he was taken to a San Bernardino County jail in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., police said
Jail records show Brooks was being held on $100,000 bail pending a Tuesday court appearance on four felony charges including resisting a police officer with force, willful harm to a police service dog, felony evading arrest and throwing objects from a vehicle.
Earlier Thursday, Brooks was expelled from the state Assembly by a voice vote following a recommendation from a bipartisan panel that met largely behind closed doors. The seven panel members considered a more than 900-page investigative report produced by a Las Vegas lawyer hired as a special counsel.
A coalition of Nevada media outlets is seeking to have the document made public.
Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, called Brooks “potentially dangerous” and said lawmakers didn’t feel safe with him in the building.
“This really saddens me,” Horne said Friday, after learning of the arrest. “I hope they get Steven the help he clearly needs before he or someone else is hurt or worse.”
The arrest was Brooks’ third this year.
He was arrested Jan. 19 after being accused of making threats toward legislative colleagues including Assembly Democratic Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick. North Las Vegas police said Brooks had a gun and ammunition in his car when he was arrested, but no charges have been filed.
Brooks was hospitalized for five days for a mental evaluation after Las Vegas police were called Jan. 25 to a dispute at his grandmother’s house.
Brooks was sworn in at the Legislature on Feb. 4 before he was arrested again Feb. 10 at his estranged wife’s home in Las Vegas after police alleged he threw punches and grabbed for the gun of an officer who responded to a domestic dispute. He faces a court hearing in May in Las Vegas on one felony and three lesser charges.
Brooks was denied the purchase of a gun in northern Nevada last month after he was banished from the Legislature.
Posin said at the time that Brooks posed no real threat to anyone.
Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.
Find Ken Ritter on Twitter at http://twitter.com/krttr and Michelle Rindels at http://twitter.com/RindelsAP
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