Jan 25, 2024

Troopers Arrest Drivers After Five Separate Pursuits

Posted Jan 25, 2024 10:00 PM

Cody Thomas

Nebraska State Patrol

JANUARY 25, 2024 (LINCOLN, NEB.)  — Troopers with the Nebraska State Patrol have arrested several people after five separate vehicle or foot pursuits in the last 24 hours. The incidents occurred in several different areas of Nebraska.

Wednesday at approximately 2:00 p.m., a trooper observed a Chevrolet Equinox speeding at over 100 miles per hour on north Highway 75 near downtown Omaha. The trooper attempted a traffic stop, but the driver refused to yield and continued at a high rate of speed. The trooper initiated a pursuit. The driver passed another vehicle on the shoulder while exiting Highway 75 onto eastbound Storz Expressway. As the vehicle continued at a high rate of speed into a residential area, the trooper discontinued the pursuit.

Several minutes later, the trooper located the suspect vehicle near 24th and Redick Avenue. The driver was taken into custody without further incident. Leeza Johnson, 34, of Omaha, was arrested and lodged in Douglas County Jail for willful reckless driving and flight to avoid arrest.

At approximately 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, troopers learned that the Otoe County Sheriff’s Office was in pursuit of a vehicle that had fled a traffic stop. As the vehicle, a Jeep Patriot, approached the Lincoln area on Highway 2, a trooper observed the vehicle traveling at over 100 miles per hour. Another trooper was able to successful deploy stops sticks after the vehicle turned northbound onto Highway 77, southwest of Lincoln.

The vehicle continued to I-80 where it came to a stop near the West Cornhusker interchange. The driver then fled on foot across all six lanes of I-80, running northbound. A trooper was positioned on the north shoulder of I-80 at the time the suspect fled on foot and was able to quickly apprehend the suspect, with the assistance of a Nebraska Guard Soldier who witnessed the suspect fleeing down the north embankment of I-80. Joshua Pearce, 39, of Hickman, was arrested for obstructing a peace officer, willful reckless driving, and resisting arrest. He was lodged in Otoe County Jail.

Wednesday evening, at approximately 7:15 p.m., a trooper performed a traffic stop on a Kia Sorento for speeding on I-80 near Giltner, at mile marker 326. During the traffic stop, the trooper detected the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. As the trooper was preparing to search the vehicle, one of the two occupants fled on foot into a nearby field. The other occupant, a pregnant woman, remained at the scene.

Troopers utilized a K9 and thermal drone to track the movements of the fleeing subject, who was later located several miles away at a truck stop at the Aurora interchange, at mile marker 332. He was taken into custody without further incident. Troopers located several suspected controlled substances inside the vehicle, including over 3 pounds of psilocybin mushroom products and over 10 pounds of marijuana and marijuana products. The driver, Santino Raphael-Hopkins, 31, of Cleveland, Ohio, was arrested for several drug-related charges and obstructing a peace officer. He was lodged in Hamilton County Jail. The female passenger was transported to the hospital in Aurora after complaining of pregnancy-related issues. She was cited and released to the hospital.

At approximately 12:30 a.m. Thursday, a trooper attempted a traffic stop on a Mazda 6 for defective lighting near Wahoo on Highway 92. During the traffic stop, the driver picked up a handgun, but immediately put it down when ordered to by the trooper. The driver then began to comply with the trooper’s orders to exit the vehicle; however, the driver quickly reentered the vehicle and fled eastbound at over 100 miles per hour, with no lights on. The trooper pursued.

After several miles, the driver lost control at the Platte River bridge and crashed. He then fled on foot. Troopers did not locate the handgun inside the vehicle and later learned the gun had been thrown from the vehicle during the pursuit. Drone operators and a Saunders County K9 were able to track to subject to a nearby detached garage, where he was taken into custody. The driver, an 18-year-old male, was arrested for flight to avoid arrest, obstructing a peace officer, criminal trespass, and weapons charges. He was lodged in Saunders County Jail.

Thursday at approximately 1:40 a.m., NSP learned that Kansas law enforcement authorities were in pursuit of a stolen Mercury Milan traveling northbound toward Nebraska on Highway 281. After entering Nebraska, Webster County sheriff’s deputies located the vehicle and picked up the pursuit. The vehicle turned westbound onto Highway 136. A trooper, along with a Franklin County deputy joined the pursuit as the vehicle continued fleeing through Franklin County. A Harlan County deputy was then able to successfully deploy stop sticks to bring the vehicle to a stop near the county line. The driver then fled on foot into a field.

After a search utilizing a thermal drone and K9 to track the subject, the driver was located and taken into custody. Silas Cooper, 19, of Mount Airy, North Carolina, was arrested for willful reckless driving, flight to avoid arrest, theft by unlawful taking, and obstructing a peace officer. He was lodged in Harlan County Jail.