Man takes plea deal after dangerous chase; officer cleared in shooting


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PROVO — An Eagle Mountain man accused of stealing a deputy's truck and leading officers on a harrowing chase through Utah County indicated in court Tuesday that he will accept a plea deal in the case.

Prosecutors also confirmed that a Saratoga Springs police officer fired three shots at him during that pursuit — something that wasn't previously reported and was not mentioned in court documents. That officer has since been cleared.

Douglas Walker Ellison, 21, appeared briefly in 4th District Court Tuesday to waive a preliminary hearing after negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors. Ellison is expected to plead guilty next month to aggravated escape, a first-degree felony. In exchange, four remaining felony charges and two misdemeanors would be dismissed. A hearing has been scheduled for May 14.

Ellison, who escaped as he was being arrested Dec. 10 for parole violations, is accused of slipping loose of his handcuffs and fleeing in an officer's vehicle when the officer left him unattended in the truck to retrieve shoes for him. Ellison led police on a chase at nearly 100 mph through rush-hour traffic while he was high on methamphetamine, according to charging documents.

In video footage from three officers' vehicles that was shown to the Deseret News Tuesday, Ellison can be seen speeding through neighborhoods, swerving through oncoming traffic and veering dangerously close to police and other drivers.

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As Ellison zips between two police vehicles attempting to block a residential street, one officer is heard warning that Ellison is coming "at a high rate of speed, he almost clipped me."

In footage captured by Saratoga Springs police officer Jared Chuchran's camera, Chuchran can be seen outside his vehicle, waving to drivers to stop and move to the shoulder of state Route 73. As Ellison barrels toward Chuchran in the stolen police vehicle, Chuchran fires three shots before diving out of the way.

Two of those shots struck the vehicle, according to deputy Utah County attorney Craig Johnson, including one shot that hit the driver's seat just inches from Ellison. A third was lost in the hillside near the highway.

In a letter dated Feb. 3, Utah County Attorney Jeffrey Buhman determined that Chuchran was legally justified when he fired the shots. Chuchran had been on paid administrative leave while the shooting was investigated, according to department protocol. He has since returned to work.

"(Chuchran) shot three times at him to try to get him to stop because he was endangering so many lives," Johnson said. "It's a miracle no one was killed in this case."

During the chase, Ellison hit a median and blew out three of the truck's tires, according to police. He eventually abandoned the police vehicle and attempted to carjack another car before running down state Route 73, pursued on foot by officers. Stopped in traffic, Utah National Guard Staff Sgt. Bryan Udy saw Ellison coming, the officers behind him, and he moved to intercept him.


Ellison led police on a chase at nearly 100 mph through rush-hour traffic while he was high on methamphetamine, according to charging documents.

Dash-cam footage from an approaching officer captured the soldier tackling Ellison into the side of a stopped police vehicle, knocking him to the ground where a group of officers piled on top of him.

Ellison appeared only momentarily in court Tuesday, his long hair slicked back and wearing an orange jumpsuit. Waiting for him in the courtroom were five officers who investigated the chase or pursued him that day, including Chuchran.

Ellison and his attorney met with prosecutors as the preliminary hearing was set to begin Tuesday and explained that he would accept the plea deal rather than proceed with the hearing, Johnson said.

"When you walk in and see all of us ready to go, a projector and 30 exhibits, that's pretty intimidating," said Johnson.

Prosecutors pushed to elevate the charge against Ellison to aggravated escape, a first-degree felony that carries a potential sentence of five years to life in prison.

"We wanted to make sure the board of pardons has every resource available to them to hold him accountable, and to hopefully rehabilitate him. He's young, but at the same time these are serious charges," he said.

Ellison was also charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of a firearm by a restricted person, unauthorized control of a vehicle, failure to respond to an officer's signal to stop, failure to stop at command of a law officer, and driving with a measurable controlled substance in the body. Those charges are expected to be dismissed.

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McKenzie Romero

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