Walla Walla man arrested after hitting three police cars during pursuit

Walla Walla man arrested after hitting three police cars during pursuit

A Walla Walla man is in jail after speeding off from police and hitting three police cars in the process.

Around 10:00 p.m. Saturday, officers got a call about an intoxicated man being violent and harassing elderly people near Alder Street and Sixth Avenue. He was soon identified as 58-year-old Tomas Fernando Franco.

About five hours earlier, police were making an unrelated arrest near Sixth Avenue and Main Street. Police say Franco was seen circling the block, blowing a trumpet, and yelling at the officer. He allegedly threatened to hurt the officer.

The officer had recently testified against Franco. He was out of jail awaiting sentencing. The officer told Franco to leave the area, or he would be arrested.

That night, when police responded to the disturbance, Franco took off in his truck at a high rate of speed. Walla Walla Police then started to follow Franco.

According to a press release, Franco allegedly stopped multiple times and tried to get officers to rear-end him. During the police chase, Franco hit three patrol cars, causing significant damage.

Police say a sergeant was parked on the east side of Bryant Street with its emergency lights off, waiting for the chase to pass. Franco was traveling westbound when he crossed the road and hit the sergeant’s car. The sergeant suffered a minor injury.

Police say he ran multiple civilians and officers off the road during the reckless chase. Franco went through the downtown area, residential streets and was driving into oncoming lanes on Highway 125.

During the chase, Franco drove to Tamaurson Road near Bliss Lane. He swerved toward a College Place fire truck, causing them to veer onto the sidewalk.

It’s not clear how fast he was going, but police say speeds varied. 20 minutes into the chase, Franco later crashed his truck into a chain link fence on Orchard Street near Ninth Avenue. The suspect then shifted the car in reverse and slammed into the front of a police car, injuring the officer.

Franco then put the truck into drive and rammed into the front bumper of another patrol car. That officer had a minor injury.

Police were able to arrest Franco after deploying a Taser. He allegedly tried to bite an officer as they walked Franco to a police car. He was medically evaluated and booked into Walla Walla County Jail.

Franco’s facing multiple charges of assault, malicious mischief and attempting to elude — all felonies.