A Ventura County Sheriff’s deputy suffered minor injuries early Tuesday morning after his vehicle was rammed and flipped by the driver of another SUV. (Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE)
An Oxnard man pleaded not guilty last week to ramming his vehicle into a Ventura County sheriff’s sergeant’s patrol SUV, court records show.
Frankie Avalos, 28, entered the plea Thursday during an arraignment in Ventura County Superior Court. Avalos was charged with two counts of felony assault on a peace officer and felony fleeing the scene of an accident in the Aug. 18 incident in Saticoy, according to court records.
The criminal complaint also included felony evading police, misdemeanor hit-and-run driving, misdemeanor resisting a peace officer and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, records show. Additionally, Avalos is accused of committing the assault offenses while out on bail in another case, records show.
An attorney with the Ventura County Public Defender’s Office was assigned to Avalos’ case last week but they could not be reached for comment.
In a news release, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office called the incident a deliberate assault. The patrol sergeant, who suffered minor injuries, was driving a sheriff’s SUV across the Santa Clara River bridge in Saticoy about 2:15 a.m. when it happened, authorities said.
A white SUV behind the patrol SUV allegedly sped up and rammed into the back of the sergeant’s vehicle, sheriff’s officials said. The sergeant sped up and changed lanes, “thinking the driver of the white sport utility vehicle had fallen asleep at the wheel or was driving under the influence,” the news release states.
Again, the white SUV sped up and hit the back of the sergeant’s SUV, authorities said. The sergeant’s vehicle spun out and flipped onto its side, pinning the lawman inside, sheriff’s officials said.
The driver of the white SUV, later identified as Avalos, continued across the bridge, authorities said. The sheriff’s sergeant, a 37-year department veteran, used his police radio to report his location and broadcast a description of the white SUV, sheriff’s officials said.
Sheriff’s deputies located Avalos’ vehicle in Santa Paula and tried to stop the vehicle, but it did not and a high-speed chase began, authorities said. The vehicle pursuit ended near Harvard Boulevard and Beckwith Road in Santa Paula, sheriff’s officials said.
Avalos ran from his white SUV but was tackled by sheriff’s deputies and taken into custody, authorities said.
He remains in Ventura County jail, with bail set at $125,000. A defense request to lower Avalos’ bail was denied by the court at his hearing, court records show.
Avalos is due back in court at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 31 in Courtroom 12.
Megan Diskin is a courts and breaking news reporter with The Star. Reach her at [email protected] or 805-437-0258.
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