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Suspect steals patrol car; crashes in nearby ditch and gets arrested

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HERMISTON, OR - At about 1:15 p.m., citizens on Cowboy Lane contacted police and reported that an unknown man was pounding on their doors in the area. Deputies went to the area and spotted the suspect, Christopher Phillips. After a brief foot chase, deputies caught Phillips and took him into custody. He is lodged in the Umatilla County Jail and faces multiple charges including escape, vehicle theft, eluding police and other pending charges.

On January 18, 2018, at approximately 8:59 a.m., Umatilla County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Daugherty responded to the area of 33464 E. Punkin Center in Hermiston for a report of a suspicious vehicle. The reporting person said the same vehicle was in area recently and could be related to a burglary in the neighborhood. Deputy Daugherty located a red, 1994 Ford Explorer and reported to dispatch he had two men detained, 19-year-old Tyler Morris from Hermiston, and 23-year-old Christopher Alvin Phillips from Hermiston. Deputy Daugherty’s investigation revealed that Phillips committed a burglary and theft in the area. He arrested Phillips, handcuffed him behind his back and secured him in the back seat of the patrol car. Morris was released. Deputy Daugherty requested a tow to impound the Ford Explorer.

Deputy Daugherty, seated in front, and Phillips, seated in back, waited in the patrol car for the tow truck, with the patrol car running for warmth. When the tow arrived, Deputy Daugherty exited from his vehicle to momentarily speak to the tow truck driver.

Phillips was able to move his cuffed hands and arms from behind his back to the front and break the patrol car's rear window. He crawled out of the window and into the driver’s seat and drove away in the patrol car. Phillips crashed the vehicle into the ditch on Tabor Rd, a short distance away. The vehicle was damages and all police equipment was recovered.

UCSO and officers from several partner law enforcement agencies including the Hermiston Police, Stanfield Police, Umatilla Police, Oregon State Police, the US Forest service with a K-9 and Umatilla County Community Corrections responded to the area and helped search for the suspect on foot, and with ATVs and the UCSO drone. UCSO appreciates their assistance.