Man accused of vehicle thefts, ramming police cruisers pleads not guilty

By Patrick Burles - @PatrickBurles on Twitter
February 9, 2018 - 2:29pm

LETHBRIDGE – A 22-year-old Calgary man accused in a pair of dealership break-ins in Lethbridge, multiple vehicle thefts, and ramming two police cruisers, intends to take his matter to trial.

Eric Christopher Smith appeared in court via CCTV Friday afternoon, Feb. 9, at which time he elected trial by Provincial court judge. The matter was then adjourned to Feb. 23, allowing for a pre-trial conference that will help determine a trial date.

In a media release from the Lethbridge Police Service, they say that officers responded to a report of a break and enter at Dunlop Ford on Mayor Magrath Drive on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 30, after an individual drove a truck into the garage door. Police say the male suspect took a set of keys, then fled into the parking area when confronted by an employee. The individual located the F350 truck that the keys belonged to and left the scene. It was later determined that the original truck used to ram the garage door had been stolen in Calgary.

As police processed the scene, the subject allegedly went to Bridge City Chrysler along the 3200 block of 1 Avenue South, using the F350 to drive into the garage door. Again, the individual took a set of keys, this time moving a Fiat Spyder down the street. Police believe the vehicle was moved so it could be stolen later. While attempting to move a second vehicle at the dealership, a security officer arrived, prompting the subject to flee in a Dodge Ram 1500.

An LPS officer observed the stolen truck near the dealership around 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, and two more officers were called in to help block the vehicle in. The subject proceeded to ram both police vehicles and took off on Highway 3.

The RCMP were contacted and assisted in the pursuit as the truck went beyond city limits. They deployed a spike belt, which disabled the vehicle, forcing the subject to run on foot. He was tracked down later in a shed by LPS Service Dog Myke and was taken into custody after being treated by EMS.

Smith faces a variety of charges that include assaulting a peace officer with a weapon, theft of a vehicle and disqualified driving.

He remains in custody after his application for bail was denied last month.

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