Police chase man in stolen garbage truck high on Cocaine

News video/Dash cam:February 07/09,Colorado.A man high on cocaine steals a garbage truck and leads officers on a 30-mile chase before he crashes, is tased and later dies.

We're getting a clearer picture of what's arguably one of the strangest police chases in southern Colorado in recent memory.

In a News First exclusive, we've obtained dash cam video from the patrol cars involved in the February 7 chase. The tapes and report from the 11th Judicial District District Attorney's office shows the string of events that led up to the death of Phillip Munoz, 29.

The DA's report on the facts of the case finds Munoz was at a Belmont-area Walgreens in Pueblo a couple hours before he died. Munoz called a friend in Colorado Springs from the Walgreens and told her he was sorry for stealing her car. He said he took so much cocaine he knew his heart would explode. He also told her to tell his young daughter he's sorry, because he's going die.

Witnesses say Munoz yelled that his "face is melting" and the "car is melting." He bought a fire extinguisher to put out a fire in the car he stole, but the car was not on fire.

"He claimed that the car was on fire and he apparently saw flames of some sort, we didn't see anything at all," said Martin Regalado, a witness.

When officers arrived, Munoz got in the car and drove away with the doors open. A couple miles away he ditched the car at the Mesa Garden Apartments on East 12th Street. Then ran over to the Loaf and Jug on the corner of Troy & Oakshire where he stole a garbage truck.

Surveillance video from patrol cars picks up the chase on highway 50 in Pueblo County heading west of Pueblo. The chase ranges anywhere from 30 to 60 miles an hour. Munoz is driving erratically.

"We're moving pretty slow," one Pueblo County Deputy in the chase tells dispatchers, "He's all over the place. It's just if we get close he tries to swerve at us."

"Looks like he's got his hand to his head," another deputy says, "I don't know if he's talking on his cell phone or if it's possibly a weapon."

It is a cell phone and Munoz is now talking to his mom. He tells her the cops are after him and will kill him. He also says he loves her. His mom later told investigators that Phillip had a longtime and extremely bad cocaine problem.

Once off the phone, he picks up speed to 60 miles an hour. In Fremont County he hits the stop sticks law enforcement put out to flatten his tires.

"He's definitely lost his left front," a deputy tells dispatchers, "that one's definitely going flat I can't tell about the other ones." But Munoz doesn't stop.

Within minutes he takes the highway 115 exit off highway 50 and turns left toward Florence. He drives down 115 on the wrong side of the road.

A Pueblo County Deputy pulls in front of Munoz and drives ahead to warn people to get off the road, or an innocent person could die He successfully gets oncoming cars to pull over.

No one knows yet if Munoz has a weapon in the truck, and the chase is about to end.

"He's pulling into the kwik stop parking lot," a deputy radios.

Munoz drives the truck into the side of a car wash, but he's not done. As deputies surround him with guns drawn, Munoz steps on the gas. Deputies want to get him out of the truck now, but he won't give up.

"Get out of the car!" one deputy shouts. They break a window and eventually see Munoz doesn't have a weapon. One officer yells for "no lethal force" and they use a taser to try to get him under control.

"Watch out Dan!" a deputy is heard yelling.

"I Got him," the other yells.

Then you hear the click and sound of a taser and Munoz yells.

Trying to hear what happens is difficult because the only wireless microphone you can hear on a deputy continuously cuts out.

"Got that arm? Try to pull him out this way! Come on!" deputies are heard yelling as they try to pull Munoz from the truck.

You can hear Munoz fighting with the officers and you can hear the click of a taser a couple more times.

It's obvious from the video, Munoz fights with the officers for several minutes.

Eventually they wrestle him to the ground, where they say he continued to struggle and is tasered again.

It's unclear in the video how many times Munoz is tased, but officers later said it was 6 times.

When they dragged him away to a patrol car they say he was passed out, but still alive. Within a few minutes he stopped breathing and they started CPR. An ambulance had already been called and arrives in a couple of minutes. Munoz was later pronounced dead at a Canon City hospital.

The report from 11th Judicial District District Attorney Thom Ledoux says the coroner's preliminary report finds "massive amounts" of cocaine in Munoz's body, which is the primary cause of death.

Ledoux says the officers would have been justified in using lethal force, but they didn't.

Some of Munoz's family and friends disagree. They tell us they think the officers and tasers killed him. They plan to speak more in depth with News First after viewing the report.

The final report from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is expected to come out in the next few days.
- video encodings still in process -


By: jdischord (102501.20)

Tags: Police chase man in stolen garbage truck high on Cocaine

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