St. Lucie County Sheriff Mascara issues statement the day after confrontation between criminal suspect and members of the Fort Pierce Police Department and St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office
Here is a statement from St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara:
On Wednesday, Dec. 19, members of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office and the Fort Pierce Police Department were participating in a joint task force targeting gang violence in Fort Pierce. At approximately 7:45 p.m. Fort Pierce officers observed what appeared to be a hand-to-hand drug deal in the area of Avenue G and North 23rd Street.
The vehicle involved was a black pickup truck that officers recognized as having fled from them the week before. The Fort Pierce officers approached the scene in a marked Fort Pierce Police vehicle.
Police Officer Keith Holmes, a nine-year veteran of the Fort Pierce Police Department, exited his vehicle and approached a black male who was leaning inside the driver's window of the stopped truck. Officer Holmes' attire clearly indentified him as a Fort Pierce Police Officer.
Upon seeing Officer Holmes the black male fled on foot, with Officer Holmes chasing him. When Officer Holmes ran past the pickup truck, the driver accelerated quickly to get away, almost hitting Officer Holmes. Officer Homes chased the male through several back yards, eventually losing sight of him.
The other officers in Officer Holmes' vehicle picked up Officer Holmes and began trying to locate the truck that fled the scene. Other law enforcement units in the area spotted the pickup truck and attempted to stop the vehicle.
The driver of the pickup truck refused to stop, and a pursuit ensued at 7:47 p.m. During the pursuit the driver of the truck attempted to ram several different law enforcement vehicles, and ran several other vehicles off the road. A Sheriff's detective attempted a PIT ("Precision Immobilization Technique") maneuver to try and end the pursuit, but the driver was able to maintain control of the truck and continued to flee.
The Sheriff’s Office helicopter was requested, and once on scene the pursuit was terminated at 7:56 p.m. The driver continued to drive erratically through neighborhoods and attempted to ram a Sheriff’s Office marked patrol unit head-on. The marked patrol unit was forced to take emergency evasive action to avoid being rammed by the vehicle.
Law enforcement vehicles reinitiated the pursuit at this time, at about 8 p.m. Officer Holmes, who was now ahead of the pursuit, blocked the intersection of Oleander Avenue and Virginia Avenue.
As the truck approached the intersection the driver swerved and attempted to hit Officer Holmes' vehicle. Officer Holmes was able to avoid impact and moved to block another intersection. As the vehicle approached the intersection the driver again swerved and attempted to hit Officer Holmes. Officer Holmes again avoided impact, and the pursuit continued to an open field off of South 11th Street.
Officers and Deputies, in marked and unmarked vehicles, attempted to take the driver into custody. The driver of the pickup truck, who had been driving erratically during the pursuit, including high speeds and attempting to ram police vehicles, continued his erratic behavior by performing "donuts" in the field and driving at law enforcement vehicles. As the law enforcement vehicles attempted to box in the driver he rammed a Sheriff’s Office K-9 vehicle, struck a Sheriff’s Office supervisor unit head-on, and rammed an unmarked vehicle, disabling it.
Det. Keith Pearson, a nine-year veteran of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, whose vehicle had been disabled, exited his vehicle thinking the driver was going to stop. The driver of the vehicle did several more donuts before driving directly at Detective Pearson.
Detective Pearson, fearing for his life because he had nowhere to hide, fired at the oncoming pickup truck. The truck veered away from Detective Pearson and turned toward Officer Holmes, who was now out of his vehicle. The vehicle came directly at Officer Holmes, who now had nowhere to go and, fearing he was going to be struck by the vehicle, fired his weapon in defense of his life.
The vehicle then came to a stop a short distance from both Detective Pearson and Officer Holmes.
Other law enforcement officers at the scene detained the passenger in the truck. The passenger said she tried to tell the driver to stop, but he did not. The passenger said the driver said he was not going back to prison. Once learning the driver had been struck by gunfire, several law enforcement officers rendered aid to the driver and called for St. Lucie County fire-rescue. The driver was transported to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Heart Institute.
The driver was identified as John Donald Augstgen Jr., a white male whose date of birth is 8/26/1965. He has an extensive criminal record including drug charges, high-speed fleeing and eluding, assault on a law enforcement officer, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was recently released from prison.
Charges are pending against Augstgen.
The passenger was interviewed and released.
Because members from both agencies were involved in the shooting, the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office is acting as the lead investigative agency, in cooperation with the Fort Pierce Police Department. Detective Pearson and Officer Holmes are both on administrative leave (with pay) in accordance with their respective agencies' policy. This is standard procedure in these types of investigations.
Administrative leave is not a disciplinary designation.
The release of additional information at this time is not anticipated.
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Charges are pending against John Donald Augstgen
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