Two Ceres police officers are recuperating from serious injuries sustained in apprehending a suspect determined to escape arrest on Monday evening, Oct. 27.
Officer Michael Vierra sustained a broken thumb in the process of arresting the highly combative 36-year-old Modestan while Officer Thomas Miller, new to Ceres Police Department, sustained serious injuries when a Ceres police canine latched onto his thigh and sunk in his teeth into flesh.
The 10-minute, 9.7-mile chase started at 9:42 p.m. when Miller patrolling the area of Hatch and Morgan roads and spotted a burgundy-colored 1997 Chevy Corsica for a missing headlight and speeding. Driver Brandon Hamilton Blas, 36, of Modesto, failed to pull over when Miller activated his red lights and fled.
Blas drove 40 to 50 mph eastbound on Hatch Road and then steered onto northbound Highway 99 while reaching a speed of 80 mph until he got off at the Kansas Road exit. The chase doubled back onto 99, this time southbound. Blas got off at the Crows Landing Road exit where the officer threw stop sticks under the tires. With one tire punctured, however, Blas got back onto southbound Highway 99. The damaged tire limited Blas' speed to 60 mph as the car was riding on the metal rim with sparks flying and swerving on the freeway. At one point Miller believed the suspect was going to lose control and crash.
The pursuit continued into Ceres with Blas taking the downtown exit and driving southbound on El Camino Avenue, the frontage road. The suspect finally lost control of the car in the 2400 block of Roeding Road and crashed into a wooden fence.
Blas sprinted from the car toward a two-story apartment complex. Officer Miller was on his heels.
By then other officers had arrived, including Officer Josh Klinge and his police canine Duke. Klinge released Duke to pursue the suspect but as Officer Miller and Blas fought, the dog bit the wrong individual, clamping onto Officer Miller's thigh and causing deep flesh wounds. As the dog was attacking the officer, Blas ran up an outside staircase but was followed by Officer Michael Vierra who caught up with him at the top landing where a fight ensued. In the struggle, the suspect and officer fell down the stairs and continued to fight as Blas resisted arrest. Three officers were eventually able to take control of Blas and handcuff him.
Officer Vierra sustained a broken thumb in the struggle.
Sgt. Jose Berber said it appears that Blas did not know anyone at the complex and was trying to make a desperate escape.
Ambulances were called for the officers and the suspect, who sustained abrasions and cuts to his face and body during the struggle.
A search of Blas' car turned up a black tar substance that is suspected to be heroin.
Blas had an outstanding parole warrant and was charged with possession of a controlled substance, felony evading of an officer, assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest.
Miller could be off work for a month or longer.
"I didn't see the injury but I was told it was pretty bad," said Sgt. Jose Berber. "He's off work for a while."
Vierra is off work too until his thumb mends.