Deputy who shot at pickup testifies

Written by Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate January 21, 2013 03:49 pm

HeggieMan officers pursued faces an attempted murder charge

A sheriff’s deputy who fired shots during a pursuit testified at the preliminary hearing of a man now accused of attempted murder as a result of the chase.

Donald Heggie, 45, of Salinas, is accused of leading authorities on the chase through Crescent City that ended with his apprehension near a house on Whaleview Court off Pebble Beach Drive on Aug. 21.

In the middle of the pursuit, authorities tried to corner Heggie’s truck in the parking lot of the Seabreeze Apartments, 1045 E. Condor St., where he maneuvered passed them and continued on, authorities said. 

Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Griffin fired three shots at Heggie’s truck.

A District Attorney’s Office investigation concluded Heggie tried to run over Griffin, citing witness and police reports. 

Griffin testified Tuesday that he joined
the pursuit shortly after it began under the impression he was chasing a stolen vehicle.

When the pursuit stalled in the Seabreeze parking lot, where patrol cars attempted to box Heggie in, Heggie began moving his truck back and forth, Griffin testified.

Griffin, who was initially positioned at the front corner of the truck near the passenger side, was struck three times by the vehicle, bending him over the hood each time, he testified.

He said that as Heggie’s truck approached him for the third strike he could hear tires squealing.

“I couldn’t get out of the way,” said Griffin. “I was scared for my life.”

As the vehicle approached, he said that he began to fire.

As Heggie’s truck passed Griffin, he hopped back into his vehicle, reported shots were fired and renewed the pursuit. It took several attempts before he could get back on the radio to advise that the shots came from him, he said.

Griffin said he was eventually taken to the hospital after the pursuit and treated for a chest strain and an irregular heartbeat.

It wasn’t until a week after the pursuit that Griffin learned the truck Heggie was driving was not reported stolen, he testified.

Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Donaldson was also called to the stand during the hearing. Donaldson was the first officer to make contact with Heggie, who was then in his truck parked outside of the courthouse.

Donaldson testified he was notified by the parents of two women who had been with Heggie previously that there was stolen property in the bed of the truck.

As Donaldson was leaving the courthouse to contact Heggie he saw the truck backing up to leave.

“So I ran across the street,” said Donaldson. “I yelled at the driver to stop several times.”

Instead, Heggie looked at Donaldson and sped off, Donaldson testified.

He  pursued the truck until it was boxed in at the apartment complex.

Donaldson testified his vehicle and Griffin’s car had Heggie’s truck blocked from the back with  3-5 feet of maneuvering space. Another patrol car was positioned in front of Heggie’s truck in an attempt to blockade it.

Donaldson said he approached the driver side of the truck, giving several verbal commands to turn off the vehicle.

When Heggie began to maneuver out of the spot, Donaldson attempted to break the driver side window with his baton, but busted a cab side window instead, he testified.

“He was going to continue to flee the area,” said Donaldson. 

He said he ran back to his vehicle to turn off the siren so the officers on scene could communicate better when he heard gunshots.

He said he didn’t see the shots fired or Griffin being struck with  the vehicle. He estimated that while Heggie was maneuvering, his truck was moving 1-5 mph. 

Del Norte County Judge Chris Doehle ruled there was sufficient evidence for the prosecution to proceed with charges of receiving stolen property of $400 or less, two counts of resisting a peace officer, evading officers with wanton disregard for safety, battery on a peace officer and assault with a deadly weapon. 

An attempted murder charge that was expected to be heard at the preliminary hearing had not been filed, District Attorney Jon Alexander said. It was filed by Wednesday.

Alexander said that a visiting judge must have missed it in the file because he had a copy of a second amended complaint that showed Heggie was being charged  with attempted murder.

“We proceeded to the preliminary hearing and argued our case as if it had been filed,” said Alexander on Thursday. “Consequently we did file that in our information and we’ll be ready to go to trial on it.”

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