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Sept. 25, 2021

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Man gets 13 months in case prompted by lengthy police chase in Clark County

Driver tried to strike several responding officers, officials say

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

A man accused in a lengthy police pursuit in June, in which he tried to strike several responding officers, was sentenced Monday to 13 months’ confinement.

Anthony James Hill, 35, no address provided, pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to amended charges of third-degree assault on an officer, hit-and-run of an unattended vehicle and reckless endangerment.

Judge John Fairgrieve followed the attorneys’ agreed-upon sentencing recommendation of 13 months on count one, 90 days on count two and 364 days on count three, all to run concurrently.

Hill declined to make a statement to the court. His court-appointed attorney, Katie Kauffman of Vancouver Defenders, said he’s been candid about his substance abuse problems, which spurred this incident.

Shortly before 7 p.m. June 19, Cowlitz Tribal Police Officer Sean Cook was contacted by ilani security about two suspected drug users who were passed out in the parking lot at the casino. When Cook arrived, the suspects’ vehicle, a white Honda Accord, was backing out of the parking stall, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

The driver, later identified as Hill, ignored officers’ commands to stop and crashed into a gray minivan. Cook opened the driver’s door, but Hill turned away, forcing Cook to let go to avoid being pulled under the vehicle, the affidavit states.

The Honda then sped off to Interstate 5 with police Sgt. Joe Higgs in pursuit. The sergeant said the Honda made a U-turn and drove toward his patrol vehicle, nearly striking him, court records say.

About a half-hour later, Clark County sheriff’s Deputy Phillip Walker responded to assist. The deputy heard over the police radio that the Honda had attempted to run over an officer, according to court records. Walker tried to get in front of the pursuit to deploy spike strips, he said. He heard the suspect vehicle went south on I-5, reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph, and prompting Ridgefield and Battle Ground police to join the pursuit.

The pursuit then went east on Northeast 219th Street, south on Northeast 10th Avenue and east onto Northeast 209th Street, the affidavit says.

While traveling on 209th Street, the Honda nearly struck Ridgefield police Officer Andy Marvitz head-on, according to court records.

As the pursuit continued, the Honda avoided two spike strips, ignored traffic signals and drove into oncoming lanes, causing multiple crashes, the affidavit states. At one point, it drove toward Battle Ground police Officer Brian Archer, nearly hitting him head-on, court documents say.

Walker went to the intersection of Northeast 119th Street and Northeast 172nd Avenue to help deploy spike strips. The Honda swerved in the direction of sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Preston, who was outside his patrol car, prompting him to run out of the way, court records say.

The Honda continued over the spike strips and eventually slowed to 35 mph, allowing deputies to perform a pursuit intervention technique, or PIT, maneuver. Two deputies pinned the vehicle, forcing it to stop.

Hill and his passenger, identified as Bailee Bunnell, were detained. Bunnell said Hill ignored her pleas to stop to let her out. Hill said he fled because he had been using drugs and was wanted by the state Department of Corrections. He denied trying to intentionally hit any officers and said he was trying to avoid them and the spike strips, according to court records.