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Bend-area police chase dashcam video released


(Update: Nelson confirms police were told driver had taken LSD, might have gun )

Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson on Friday offered details of the pursuit he initiated of a reportedly drugged and suicidal driver, as District Attorney John Hummel released Oregon State Police dashcam video of the chase, which ended in the suspect crashing into a Bend police K-9 team’s patrol car.

The pursuit began the afternoon of May 9 on Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond. Nelson said he was driving an unmarked car with flashing lights and sirens and had received the call broadcast to deputies of a suicidal person driving impaired and who might have a gun.

Nelson said it was reported to area law enforcement that Zenler Clairmont, 19, of Lake Oswego, was under the influence of LSD and might be armed, as he had stopped earlier at a gun shot.

Oregon State Police and Bend police joined in the pursuit of Clairmont, who was driving a black Jeep Wrangler.

Nelson said that under the pursuit policy he set for the office, “what we would like to have happen is a marked unit take the initial position as soon as possible,” for more visibility and safety. “That was not able to occur in this case,” he said.

However, Nelson added, “In a situation that involves a threat to public safety, we will use any and all law enforcement that can come to the scene and assist.”

Clairmont was pursued onto Cooley Road, and then O.B. Riley Road, where speeds reached 75 mph . Police said he then turned onto Highway 20, heading back toward Bend. Officers tried to box in the Jeep and force it off the road, but Clairmont swerved into oncoming traffic several times.

“Any time we pursue a suspect, we constantly want to balance the benefit of the apprehension or stopping the suspect vs. the risk that it can create for public safety,” Nelson said.

“In this particular case, the suspect was intoxicated and suicidal, and I felt there was a significant public safety risk to the citizens we serve,” the sheriff said.

In this incident, unmarked cars were used to continue surveillance of the subject and set spike strips in an effort to flatten the tires and slow or stop him. But Clairmont avoided six sets of spike strips, as well as roadblocks that were set up where police thought he could be heading.

Police pursuits are frequently discontinued as they approach heavy traffic or more populated areas.

“As the chase approached Bend, I knew that that was a pursuit that I would not want to continue,” the sheriff said. ” When we got to our office, they had spike strips in the roadway. I was not able to avoid spike strips, even though the suspect did. ”

That flattened three of the four tires on Nelson’s unmarked car, so he said he pulled off the road and let other units continue the pursuit.Clairmont entered Bend on Third Street and turned onto Butler Market Road, then Fourth Street. The chase ended with him turning onto a dead-end street and crashing into the side of a Bend police K-9 team’s patrol car. The officer and police dog were injured but both are now back at work.

Clairmont faces 14 charges, including DUII, recklessly endangering and criminal mischief. He is due for arraignment next Thursday.

Hummel’s office confirmed to NewsChannel 21 on Friday that they are not investigating anyone involved in the pursuit.

Nelson said the sheriff’s office reviews its pursuit policies every three years.

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