A Castle Rock police officer suffered serious injuries late Sunday night after a Longview man allegedly drove a stolen van into his patrol car twice, causing the officer to fire shots at the suspects. The suspects were not injured.
The officer is currently in the hospital with a fractured vertebrae, said the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office Chief Criminal Deputy Troy Brightbill. He did not identify the officer.
Just after 11 p.m., Sunday Feb. 28, the officer tried to pull over the van on Spirit Lake Memorial Highway near Seaquest State Park, but the vehicle sped eastbound toward Toutle, according to a press release.
The driver of the van stopped on the highway, reversed, struck the officer’s patrol car, and continued to flee westbound. The officer followed, but the driver once again stopped, reversed and rammed the officer’s car, disabling the vehicle.
After the second hit, the officer fired shots, hitting the van, but not striking the driver nor the passenger and they fled on foot, according to a press release.
About 10 minutes before the shooting began, the owner of the Ford Econoline van from the Water Doctor of Washington, a water treatment business based in Chehalis, reported the vehicle stolen and activated its GPS, according to Brightbill. GPS pinpointed the van on Spirit Lake Memorial Highway.
The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office and other police agencies helped detain the suspects, according to a press release.
The driver of the van, Dale E. Woodley Jr., 40, of Longview, was booked on suspicion of two counts of second-degree assault, attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, possession of a stolen vehicle, first-degree malicious mischief, criminal trespass, and third-degree attempted theft.
The passenger, Timothy R. Bean, 33, of Longview, was booked on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle.
Brightbill said an independent investigation into the discharge of the officer’s weapon will be conducted using the interlocal agreement between the county’s eight law enforcement agencies that form the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team.
The investigation is not required by the state because the suspects were not injured and will not follow state guidelines including involving a community representative who is not a law enforcement officer.