Dash cam video released after citizen interferes with high-speed chase

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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah - She thought she was being a hero, but it turns out she was more of a vigilante.

On Monday West Valley City Police released body camera video of a marine who interfered with a high-speed police chase.

The pursuit of the stolen Nissan truck left a trail of sparks along 3500 South during the early morning hours of Nov. 15.

Police say just when they thought the chase was coming to an end things got more serious, when a white pickup truck joined in the pursuit, cutting in front of law enforcement vehicles.

The driver of the pickup, marine Rachelle Fernandez, appeared to be attempting a PIT maneuver, a common but difficult technique, used by law enforcement, when you hit the back of the vehicle being pursued in order to stop it.

"At that point tunnel vision kicks in, you can't hear anything, you can just see lights and I remember seeing this guy and all I thought in my head was stop him, slow him down," Fernandez said.

Warning: Video below contains adult language. 

"It is so ridiculously dangerous for a civilian to try this, to do this without training, without proper equipment, without assisting officers," said Sgt. Robert Hamilton with West Valley City Police.

Police say Fernandez was putting in jeopardy the lives of everyone else on the road.

"Where she attempted to do it was probably one of the worst places that she could have with those vehicles and oncoming traffic, she was pushing him right into oncoming traffic," Hamilton said. "To think you are going to be able to perform this maneuver in the middle of a police pursuit, it's only done in Hollywood."

"As a civilian, as a citizen, if you see someone possibly hurt someone I think that's everybody's job, alright what can we do," Fernandez said.

Fernandez eventually backed off the chase. The alleged truck thief was arrested a short time later. Fernandez, to her surprise, was also arrested on two misdemeanor charges, but she said she has no regrets.

"I'm not a vigilante, and I'm not a hero, I was just a concerned citizen," Fernandez said.

"The training that our veterans bring home while invaluable do not translate directly into law enforcement and pursuit capabilities," Hamilton said.

Fernandez is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 7. She faces charges of failure to stop for an emergency vehicle and interfering with an arresting officer. She said she plans to fight those charges.





  • bob

    Two possibilities:

    1. The suspect was considered a serious danger to public safety, in which case the woman who tried to stop him is a hero.

    2. The suspect was NOT considered a violent threat, in which case the cops were breaking the law, and the woman is still a hero because it was reasonable to assume they were chasing a violent criminal.

    Either way: Hero.

    A high speed chase is deadly force. Cops aren’t supposed to do it unless the risk to the suspect and the innocent public is outweighed by the danger of letting the suspect get away. Otherwise, they’re required to break off the chase.

    So which is it, boys? Were you breaking the law, or are you going to thank the hero for her help?

    This society belongs to the citizens, not the police. They are employees.

    • jafaws

      1. The police were obviousley already trying to stop the suspect as the spiked tires and at least 3 cop cars with emergency lights flashing indicated.

      2. Citizens are supposed to yield to the flashing lights by pulling to the side of the road and stop, not attempt a dangerous mavover while police are directly behind the suspect then continue in the pursuit for several blocks.

      3. A police pursuit is not a deadly force situation. Each one is based on risk benefit. Does the benefit of the chase outweigh the risk.

      She clearly should have moved out of the way and came to a safe and complete stop to allow the police to continue the pursuit as soon as she saw the lights. I respect her for defending our country. If she wanted to continue doing it on a local level, she should have became a cop.

    • Ron

      Uh did you even read the article or watch the video? she pushed the suspect car into oncoming lanes of traffic…….with other cars coming at them. Thats just ludicrous, the cops could have done that if they wanted to. But unlike her, they have the training, protocol and procedures for vehicle pursuits. I really want to know where it is that you got that vehicle pursuits are deadly force? They are not, they are based on the risk of chasing the bad guy vs the risk of letting him go and the harm he will do while on the loose. She is a hero for her time of services as a Marine, in this incident she let her ego get the best of her and that put others at risk. Had she done something similar in combat, some of her team members could of been injured or killed.

  • Not that Bob but another other Bob

    Maybe the police should have shot and killed Mr. Martinez and that would’ve avoided the high-speed chase risking numerous innocent lives. Stop playing with these idiots and just shoot them, it will help clean up the shallow end of the gene pool. And maybe help other idiots realize it may not be a wise choice to endanger innocent lives and run from the police. That sounds like a win-win situation to me.

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