ST. GEORGE — A man was charged with nearly a dozen crimes following an incident that began with a traffic stop in Santa Clara and ended with a foot chase and arrest after the suspect shattered the windshield in a K-9 vehicle.
The incident was set in motion when a car was stopped on 200 East in Ivins for a speed violation shortly after 7:30 a.m. Friday, which is when the officer noticed that the passenger was “moving up and down in his seat” and acting suspicious, the officer wrote in charging documents filed with the court.
When the K-9 unit arrived, both occupants got out of the vehicle and the dog was deployed to conduct a sniff around the outside of the car and indicated to the possible presence of narcotics.
During a search of the front passenger, officers found a 3-inch knife that was in the open position in a front pocket, along with a baggie containing what appeared to be methamphetamine.
While searching the car, officers also found three bank cards that were located on the passenger side of the car, along with a Utah driver’s license, none of which belonged to the passenger, later identified as 25-year-old Keith Bergman III of Washington City.
A records check of the driver’s license recovered during the search revealed it was allegedly taken during a vehicle burglary reported on 500 South in St. George hours earlier, during which the driver’s license and more than $360 in valuables were reportedly removed from the car.
Once St. George Police Officers were advised of the traffic stop taking place in Ivins, they responded and spoke to the driver of the vehicle who told them Bergman called at 3 a.m. that morning asking for a ride. When the driver arrived to pick him up, Bergman “had a bunch of property he did not have earlier when she had dropped him off,” the officer recounted in charging documents filed with the court.
Santa Clara-Ivins Police Sgt. Reed Briggs told St. George News that at that point, Bergman was taken into custody and placed in the front passenger’s seat of the K-9 officer’s patrol vehicle to be transported to jail, which is typical whenever the transport involves a K-9 unit’s vehicle as opposed to a standard patrol vehicle that is equipped with a “cage” that separates the officer from the suspect being transported in the rear seat.
Briggs went on to say that suspects cannot be placed in the rear seat during transport because the dog is back there.
While en route to the jail, the suspect became combative and began hitting his head on the passenger’s side window minutes after the officer exited the interstate.
“The guy really didn’t start getting combative until they were dropping down the hill into Hurricane headed toward Purgatory,” Briggs said.
The officer, still heading south on state Route 59 toward Purgatory at the time, held the suspect’s head down toward the center console to prevent him from injuring his head or causing damage to the window. While doing so, a handcuffed Bergman raised his feet up and began kicking the windshield. The windshield shattered as they were approaching the jail complex, prompting the officer to notify jail staff that he had a combative transport coming in.
“The officer was just trying to reach the jail as quickly as possible,” Briggs said, adding that Bergman “flipped a switch and there was no turning back at that point.”
As the officer pulled up toward the large inmate bay door of the jail, Bergman, still handcuffed, maneuvered his hands over to release the seat belt. After unlocking the door, he jumped from the patrol vehicle and fled from police.
The officer also jumped out and went after Bergman on foot. As he did so, Briggs said, the patrol vehicle rolled forward and struck the inmate bay door, knocking it off its track.
In the meantime, the officer caught up with the suspect and a short struggle ensued. Once Bergman was subdued, the officer held him down until backup arrived to assist, which took a few minutes.
“When that patrol vehicle hit the sally port, it knocked the door off the track, making it impossible for deputies to open it electronically,” Briggs said. “So, they had to use other exits to reach the officer.”
Bergman was detained and booked into jail shortly thereafter.
Briggs said Bergman appeared to be under the influence of some type of controlled substance during the incident, causing him to start acting irrationally “very quickly,” adding that officers at the scene reported Bergman may have been “on a bad batch of something and it went very wrong,” he said.
Additionally, Briggs said officers were not aware that Bergman had prior incidents with other law enforcement agencies where he was reportedly combative until after Friday’s traffic stop. Now that they are armed with that information, he said, “we will certainly handle any encounters with this suspect differently going forward.”
One such incident was reported two weeks ago in Washington City, where he was arrested initially for allegedly skipping out of more than $300 in hotel fees. That all changed after police say he kicked at the officers and made a number of aggressive threats toward police as they were taking him into custody. He was later charged with multiple crimes, including five misdemeanor counts of assault on a police officer and one count of interfering with an arrest.
In connection with Friday’s incident in Ivins, Bergman was charged with five third-degree felonies, including one count of escape from official custody, one count of damage to jail and three counts of unlawful acquisition of a financial card. He also faces one count each of theft by receiving stolen property, possession of another’s identifying documents, possession of a dangerous weapon, and possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia, each a misdemeanor.
He was also charged with misdemeanor vehicle burglary and theft for the incident reported earlier that morning in St. George and is scheduled to make an initial appearance in 5th District Court Friday on both cases. He remains in custody on $36,260 bail.
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