Crime

Police say he drove recklessly in a Walmart parking lot. He’s now charged in 90 mph chase

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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

A Kennewick man who handed an officer his suspended license, then took off, has been charged with leading police on a chase that reached speeds of 90 mph in a 30 mph zone.

Antonio De Jesus Martinez, 32, allegedly drove in oncoming lanes of traffic, traveled the wrong way in a highway off-ramp and ran multiple stop signs in the early Tuesday pursuit that started at the Walmart in Pasco.

Pasco police backed off, shortly after entering into Kennewick, because of Martinez’s “unsafe and erratic driving,” court documents said.

However, a tipster led police to his abandoned car in Kennewick hours later, and Martinez was tracked down at a home and arrested.

Martinez was charged Thursday in Franklin County Superior Court with: attempting to elude police, a felony; reckless driving, a gross misdemeanor; and third-degree driving with a suspended license, a misdemeanor.

He remains in jail on $50,000 bail, and is scheduled to be arraigned June 18.

Started at Walmart

It all started at 2:52 a.m. Tuesday when Pasco Officer Andrew Taylor, parked outside Walmart, noticed a Cadillac CTS back out of a parking space and drive recklessly through the lot at unsafe speeds, according to court documents.

Taylor tried to catch up to the Cadillac and nearly was hit when the sedan made a U-turn in front of him, documents said. He stopped the car and learned from dispatchers that the registration had expired almost a year ago, even though the license plate tabs showed they were valid until November 2020.

Martinez pulled into a parking space, then told Taylor that he bought the Cadillac not too long ago, court documents said.

He handed over his driver’s license and vehicle registration, which expired June 14, 2018. A dispatcher then advised Taylor that a records check showed the Cadillac had sold May 10, 2019, but did not have a name of the buyer.

Taylor called for backup and, as the second officer arrived, Martinez sped off through the parking lot, pulled onto Burden Boulevard and then turned south on Road 68, documents said.

Speeds reached 90

Police said Martinez at one point drove around 90 mph in a 30 mph zone on West Court Street.

Officers were able to get the Cadillac to spin out, but Martinez allegedly rammed a police car and drove off.

Hours after the chase was terminated, at 7:27 a.m., Kennewick police got word of a suspicious Cadillac parked on West 14th Avenue with people rummaging through it, court documents said. The people had pulled up next to the Cadillac in a white Toyota Corolla.

Taylor was alerted the Cadillac had been found and drove to Kennewick to get it towed back to Pasco. As he was waiting for the tow truck, Kennewick police found a possible address for Martinez and went and arrested him, documents said.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.

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