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Santa Cruz Suspect Who Rammed Deputy After Escaping Handcuffs Identified

SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) -- The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office revealed more details and body camera footage Tuesday from a case near Santa Cruz last Friday in which a deputy shot and injured a woman who had escaped from handcuffs and rammed another deputy with a stolen patrol car.

Jessica Lowe
Jennifer Lowe (Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office)

Sheriff Jim Hart led a news conference at the department's headquarters today to talk about the case, which started at 3:27 a.m. Friday when deputies were patrolling the end of the Ocean Street Extension near Paradise Park due to neighborhood concerns of illegal activity.

Deputies found two cars parked in a turnout at the end of the road, one of which was a Honda reported stolen from San Jose.

Jessica Lowe, 27, and a man were standing between the cars when deputies approached them. The pair were handcuffed and placed in separate patrol cars while they were being questioned, according to Hart.

Deputy August Waltrip was searching the stolen car while another deputy was interviewing the man Lowe had been standing in the road with. At that time, she slipped out of her cuffs, reached through the rear window and opened the door of the other patrol car, according to the sheriff's office.

Lowe jumped into the driver's seat and allegedly intentionally drove at the second deputy interviewing the man. Without warning, Lowe's car struck the deputy.

Waltrip heard the crash and the second deputy screaming in pain as he approached the car Lowe had stolen, the sheriff said. Waltrip did not know if his partner was stuck underneath the car or was pinned between the two patrol cars.

In fear for the second deputy's life, Waltrip fired twice at Lowe as he opened the driver's side door, where she was located, to try and stop her.

Waltrip ran around the backside of the car driven by Lowe and could hear his partner yelling in pain. The vehicle's reverse lights flickered and the vehicle backed up at Waltrip. He fired again several more times, Hart said.

Waltrip was able to move he and the injured deputy behind a tree until Lowe finally stopped the car. He gave Lowe verbal commands to exit the car and remain on the ground. She complied until other deputies arrived a few minutes later.

Those deputies rendered aid to Lowe, who was struck by three bullets in the gunfire, Hart said. They helped for more than 10 minutes before the first paramedics arrived, and investigators believe this likely saved her life.

Lowe was flown to a trauma center where she had one surgery and is expected to recover, sheriff's officials said.

The injured deputy hit by the patrol car Lowe was driving was treated at a hospital and later released, although he will need future medical care for his injuries.

When Lowe is released, she will be transferred to the county jail and be booked on suspicion of attempted murder of a peace officer, Hart said.

The Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office is investigating the incident and Waltrip has been placed on routine administrative leave.


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