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Uintah County Jail

Oregon parolee charged in alleged attempt to disarm Utah officer

By Geoff Liesik | Posted - May 12th, 2014 @ 6:49pm


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VERNAL — An Oregon parolee has been charged in connection with a bizarre one-day crime spree in Uintah County that ended when investigators say he tried to disarm a police officer, causing the officer's gun to discharge inside a hospital.

James Robert Olson is charged in 8th District Court with disarming a police officer, a first-degree felony; assault on a police officer, a second-degree felony; and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, a second-degree felony.

Prosecutors have also charged Olson, 30, with multiple felony counts of criminal mischief, joyriding and failure to stop at an officer's command. He also faces misdemeanor charges of DUI, interfering with an arrest, burglary of a vehicle and trespassing.

On April 26, Olson caused thousands of dollars in damage when he drove a pickup truck through chain-link fences at one business in Vernal and two businesses in Naples, according to charging documents. At each business he tried to steal a vehicle, investigators said.

Police witnessed two of the attempted vehicle thefts and were trying to stop Olson when he climbed inside a crane truck parked outside of one of the businesses, Naples Police Chief Mark Watkins said a short time after Olson's arrest.

"One of the officers was alongside the crane truck at that point and used a Taser on the guy," the chief said. "It had no effect on him, and the fight was on."

After his arrest, Olson was taken to Ashley Regional Medical Center because it appeared he was high on meth, Watkins said.

While he was at the hospital, Olson told the officer guarding him that he needed to use the bathroom. When the officer removed Olson's handcuffs, he hit the officer several times "with a closed fist," the charges state.

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"During the course of the physical altercation, James Olson attempted (to take) and at one point controlled (the gun) and began to disarm officer Jason Bateman," charging documents state.

The officer's gun discharged once during the struggle, with the bullet striking the cement floor. The officer suffered a shrapnel injury to his thumb, as well as "minor abrasions and lacerations" to his arms, face and fingers, the charges state.

Olson was secured and booked into the Uintah County Jail, where he as been held without bail since his arrest.

Oregon Department of Corrections spokeswoman Betty Bernt confirmed Monday that Olson served nine months in prison in that state for eluding police and possession of meth. He was paroled in November and allowed to move to Utah, where he is supervised by Adult Probation & Parole under an interstate compact.

Court records in Utah show Olson has recent misdemeanor convictions in Duchesne County for assault and violation of a protective order. He was also convicted of attempted armed robbery in 2001 in Washington, according to Watkins.

Olson is due back in court June 18 for a preliminary hearing.

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