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Jury Convicts Man Who Led Police on High-Speed Pursuit Through Town

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

A jury has convicted 28-year old James Edward Patzke on charges that he assaulted a peace officer, reckless evaded a peace officer and stole a vehicle in a November 2020 incident where he led law enforcement on a high-speed pursuit that ended in the Willow Creek Valley north of Susanville.

According to details released by the Lassen County District Attorney’s Office, Patzke had been observed checking doors in an area of Johnstonville where a vehicle was later reported to have been stolen.

A short time later a Lassen County Sheriff’s Deputy observed the stolen vehicle, driven by Patzke, at the intersection of Highway 139 and Skyline Drive. The deputy attempted a traffic stop but Patzke failed to yield, instead accelerating to speeds between 65-80mph through a residential neighborhood near Diamond Mountain Casino and then back on to the highway.

The pursuit continued at speeds of up to 115mph with Patzke driving into oncoming traffic, causing vehicles to swerve out of his way and, at one point, driving directly towards a Deputy Sheriff involved in the pursuit, forcing the deputy off the road.

The pursuit came to an end approximately 2-miles north of Merrillville Road when the vehicle ran off the road and into a ditch. Patzke fled on foot but later returned to the scene and was taken into custody without further incident.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 26th, where Patzke faces a maximum of 6-years, 4-months in state prison.

Lassen County District Attorney Melyssah Rios thanked jurors in the case for their time and deliberation, along with the civilian witnesses who participated and the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in the investigation and successful prosecution of this matter. The case was tried by Assistant District Attorney Susan Rados.

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