SPD PRESS RELEASE: Friday evening (1/28/2011) at about 11:30 pm Spokane Police Officers Rhian Wilkinson and Lance Fairbanks saw a vehicle near 8th and Ivory and attempted to stop it for a license plate violation. The vehicle refused to stop and fled Spokane on I-90 toward Idaho. Because of the risk it posed to the public, officers discontinued the pursuit, but the Spokane County Sheriff's helicopter Air 1 was able to monitor the vehicle for some time. Air 1 noted that the vehicle was continuing to drive in a very reckless manner without law enforcement in pursuit, endangering I-90 travelers.
Air 1 continued to monitor the reckless vehicle and notified Idaho Law Enforcement as it crossed the state line. Multiple Idaho police agencies then pursued the suspect vehicle across Idaho.
Meanwhile, as the vehicle continued to flee on I-90, Officers Wilkinson and Fairbanks returned to the area where the pursuit started. They discovered that a Residential Burglary had been committed exactly where they first observed the fleeing vehicle near 8th and Ivory.
While officers in Idaho were still pursuing the vehicle, Officers Wilkinson and Fairbanks were able to determine that the occupants of the fleeing vehicle were suspects in the burglary. The Idaho State Patrol stopped the suspect vehicle near Wallace, Idaho, and arrested the driver, Nicholas J. Eisenhart, 31 years old, and booked him into jail for a warrant and criminal charges relating to the pursuit in Idaho. Eisenhart's vehicle was seized by police as evidence to allow Spokane Police Detectives to continue to investigate the burglary in which Eisenhart is a suspect.
This is a perfect example of how SPD officers often find themselves in harm's way when trying to perform even the most "routine" tasks associated with their job. At the time of the stop for a traffic violation, they had no way of knowing there were fleeing felons in the vehicle.