Man who reportedly abandoned car during police pursuit charged with fleeing a peace officer
Smith is scheduled to make his initial appearance in court on April 17.
ROCK COUNTY — A Garretson, South Dakota, resident was charged with a felony count of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, after reportedly driving away from a traffic stop and later abandoning his vehicle to continue fleeing on foot.
According to the criminal complaint filed in Rock County, in the early hours of April 2, Rock County law enforcement attempted to initiate a traffic stop on two vehicles, after both failed to stop at a stop sign.
After both vehicles had pulled over, the deputy spoke with the driver of a Buick LeSabre, later identified as Joseph Allen Smith, 41. Despite being informed that the deputy wanted both vehicles, Smith allegedly peeled away from the curb and took off, running another stop sign.
Smith proceeded to flee at a high rate of speed through the city of Luverne, with law enforcement in pursuit. He reportedly ran multiple stop signs before veering onto hard-packed snow near the intersection of West Lincoln Street and North Donaldson Street and came to a stop on the right side of the roadway.
Smith then reportedly exited the LeSabre and took off running. After failing to locate Smith, the deputy returned to the LeSabre. While inspecting the vehicle officers heard yelling coming from a nearby house party. Law enforcement spoke with some of the attendants, who stated that “Joe Smith” had shown up, but had been asked to leave.
The attendance of the party provided officers with details about Smith's place of work and residence. Though officers found tracks in the snow behind the house leading down the alley, they were unable to locate Smith at that time.
Rock County Sheriff officers were later contacted and told that Smith had reported his car stolen in South Dakota. However, in comparing pictures from Smith's social media and the squad camera footage from the traffic stop, the deputy identified Smith as the driver.
After locating Smith at his place of work, and advising him that the false report of the stolen vehicle would only result in more trouble, Smith reportedly admitted to being the driver of the LeSabre and agreed to come into the local law enforcement center for a formal interview.
In addition to the felony count of fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, Smith also faces a misdemeanor count of fleeing a peace officer by means other than a motor vehicle as well as one count of reckless driving and driving after revocation of a license.
He is scheduled to make his initial appearance in court on April 17.
If convicted Smith faces a maximum sentence of 3 years and one day in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both for the charge of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle. The three misdemeanor charges carry a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Note: This article was written based on information reported by local law enforcement agencies. The Globe reminds readers that all individuals are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.