CRIME

Drunken man who stole truck with 4-year-old inside arrested after long chase, police say

Oct 31, 2022, 9:14 PM | Updated: Nov 18, 2022, 5:58 pm

FILE: A man was arrested after police say he took his brother's truck with a 4-year-old girl in the...

FILE: A man was arrested after police say he took his brother's truck with a 4-year-old girl in the back seat in Woods Cross, then led police on a long high-speed chase that ended in a head-on collision. (Jeffery D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffery D. Allred/Deseret News)

WOODS CROSS, Utah — A man who police say took a vehicle with a 4-year-old girl in the back seat and then drove erratically — with speeds over 100 mph — was arrested over the weekend following a long chase that stretched from Woods Cross to the Salt Lake City International Airport and ended with a head-on collision with an officer’s patrol car.

Michael Lee Freeman, 49, was at a Halloween party in Woods Cross Saturday night and became “drunk to the point his behavior was inappropriate,” according to a police booking affidavit.

“Michael continued this type of behavior long after being told to stop, so they concluded it was necessary for Michael to leave,” the affidavit states.

Freeman’s brother and his brother’s wife escorted Freeman to their pickup truck and put their 4-year-old granddaughter in a car seat in the back. But “when they turned to say goodbye to the remainder of the party guests, Michael climbed into the driver’s seat, asked if the (brother) ‘still wanted to play around with him,'” according to the affidavit.

Freeman then sped away from the residence in the truck with the young girl still in the back, whom he has no custody over.

Officers spotted the vehicle about 10 minutes later near 1500 S. Redwood Road in Woods Cross and again near 200 N. Redwood in North Salt Lake. Police say Freeman pulled into a gas station and began driving slowly as an officer followed him. Freeman then turned around and attempted to hit the officer’s patrol car, sped up and “continued attempting to hit (the officer) as they traveled west on Center Street toward Redwood Road,” according to the affidavit.

“The defendant was acting in a clear attempt to crash or crash into (the officer’s) patrol vehicle, and acting in a manner likely to cause serious bodily injury or death,” another officer who witnessed the incident wrote in the arrest report.

As Freeman passed the second officer, one of the truck’s rear tires was spiked.

“Both vehicles turned north on Redwood Road and continued at a high speed. A North Salt Lake officer caught up to both vehicles and pulled behind the defendant’s vehicle with emergency lights and siren activated. The defendant immediately performed a U-turn and proceeded southbound on Redwood Road toward Salt Lake City,” the affidavit states. “During the pursuit, the defendant’s vehicle drove through several red traffic signals and around other motorists on the roadway, demonstrating disregard for the safety of other persons and property. The pursuit lasted 16 minutes and covered over nine miles before coming to an end in the air cargo terminal area of the Salt Lake International Airport.”

The chase came to an end when police say Freeman struck a pursuing police vehicle head-on. No serious injuries were reported.

Freeman reached speeds of more than 100 mph during the chase, according to police, who believe he may have been heading to California. Investigators say Freeman is currently on parole out of California and had only been in Utah two weeks when he was arrested.

After Freeman was arrested, the young girl told officers that during the pursuit, “Michael had punched her in the chest for crying,” the affidavit states.

Freeman was booked into the Davis County Jail for investigation of a total of 12 potential charges, including aggravated kidnapping, three counts of assault on an officer, child abuse, theft of a vehicle, failing to stop for police and DUI.

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Drunken man who stole truck with 4-year-old inside arrested after long chase, police say