Police dog bites Eugene resident who tackled suspect fleeing officers

November 29, 2017

A 34-year-old Eugene man who tried to help police nab a man being chased by police accidentally was bitten by a Springfield police dog in the abdomen and in the arm. His injuries required 11 stitches to close.

Springfield police said the man was attempting to help them chase Roberto Martinez, 42, of Eugene, who was wanted in connection with the crash of a stolen car after a police pursuit. Police had warned residents of the Cal Young neighborhood in north Eugene to stay in their homes Monday night while they searched for a man and a woman in connection with the stolen car incident.

A resident on Larkspur Loop was working on his car in his driveway when he saw police chasing a man, identified as Martinez, whom he tackled in his front yard, Springfield police Lt. Scott McKee said.

But when the resident tackled Martinez, a Springfield police officer already had released the police dog, McKee said, and the dog bit the resident by mistake as the resident and Martinez wrestled on the ground.

McKee said the man who was bitten has been asked to file a claim with the city of Springfield, and the city’s human resources department has been notified. McKee said the city will pay for all of the man’s medical costs.

Being tackled helped Martinez get away for a time while the police dog was detaining the good Samaritan, but Springfield police dog Flex found Martinez about an hour later, hiding in the crawl space of a house on Monterey Lane.

The incident started when a Springfield police detective spotted a stolen car around 4:45 p.m., headed south on Interstate 5.

The detective followed the car as it drove into Eugene and entered Randy Papé Beltline.

Springfield and Eugene police officers went to the area to help the detective, who attempted to stop the vehicle in the Walmart parking lot on Green Acres Road.

Springfield police identified the driver as Jessica Dawn Blanton, 25, of Eugene. Three passengers were in the car. When police attempted to pull the car over, it instead drove down several streets in the Ferry Street Bridge area, Springfield police said.

The vehicle chase ended, however, when Blanton crashed into a curb at Norkenzie Road and Larkspur Loop.

The car was disabled, police said, and Blanton got out and ran east. Martinez, 42, of Eugene, who was the front-seat passenger, ran west.

Two passengers in the back seat were detained at the scene, but they were released without being charged.

Springfield police dog Falko located Blanton in the backyard of a residence near Norkenzie Road and Larkspur Loop. She allegedly entered the house illegally and hid inside before fleeing into the backyard, police said.

Both Blanton and Martinez surrendered when the police dogs found them, and they were arrested without struggle or injury, police said.

Blanton faces charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle, reckless driving, elude by vehicle, elude by foot, two counts of reckless endangering, first-degree criminal trespass, second-degree criminal trespass, and driving while suspended. She also was taken to the jail on five outstanding warrants, including identity theft, unauthorized use and entry of a motor vehicle, third-degree theft and possession of methamphetamine.

Martinez faces charges of first-degree burglary, four counts of second-degree trespass, possession of a stolen vehicle, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, obstructing governmental administration, interfering with police and felony failure to register as a sex offender. He was booked into the jail on an outstanding arrest warrant for failure to register as a sex offender.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Springfield police at 541-726-3714.

Follow Chelsea on Twitter @ChelseaDeffenB . Email chelsea.deffenbacher@registerguard.com .