By Olivia Lloyd
Source The Charlotte Observer
The 19-year-old Raphael Mayorga is “well-known” among local officers in his green Dodge Challenger, Maryland police said.
He now faces an attempted murder charge after Montgomery County police chief Marcus Jones said he intentionally struck a sergeant on the highway Oct. 18.
The sergeant has now lost use of his legs, Jones said.
“This is what he does. He does this intentionally to bait officers into chasing him as if this is some sort of a video game,” Jones said at a news conference later that day.
Sgt. Patrick Kepp and other officers on patrol the morning of Oct. 18 observed Mayorga driving “recklessly,” according to Jones. He said officers saw him entering and exiting Interstate 270, north and southbound, at high rates of speed several times.
“I want it to be known that this morning, although this individual had been provoking us, our officers did not pursue the vehicle,” Jones said.
Instead, officers were posted at several locations to monitor the situation, at one point clocking Mayorga driving at over 110 miles per hour down I-270, Jones said.
Eventually, the duty commander and Kepp decided to put out stop sticks, used to deflate tires, in an effort to stop the car after they said they observed the 19-year-old nearly run another driver off the road.
Kepp parked his cruiser and got out to deploy the stop sticks, when “the situation took a turn,” Jones said.
“The driver … intentionally, and I want to stress that, the vehicle is observed actually intentionally moving from the middle lanes to the far left lanes and came directly at Sgt. Kepp as he was deploying the stop sticks,” Jones said.
Mayorga was stopped by another officer’s stop sticks farther up the road, and first responders rushed to Kepp, Jones said.
He said without those immediate life-saving measures, Kepp would likely have not survived his injuries.
He was taken to a hospital in critical condition and “has lost the use of both legs,” Jones said.
In May, Kepp arrested Mayora in connection with several traffic violations, including a charge of driving 136 mph in a 55 mph zone, Jones said.
Montgomery County court records show an array of other traffic offenses filed against Mayorga.
Now, Mayorga faces charges of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and causing life-threatening injury by motor vehicle.
The public defender’s office representing Mayorga declined to comment on the case, citing that it’s early in the proceedings and the office is still gathering information.
“The reason we don’t pursue and do high-speed chases is the damage and the risk involved in a high-speed chase,” county executive Marc Elrich said during the news conference. “This should not be treated as a regular type of traffic incident. We should talk to our legislators about a way of criminalizing this in a different way.”
Police were awaiting results to determine if the driver was impaired as of the Oct. 18 conference.
The 36-year-old Kepp had been with the police department since 2014, Jones said.
“Sgt. Kepp was willing to put himself in harm’s way in order to try to get this guy off the street,” Jones said.
Court records show Mayorga is held without bond as of Oct. 19.
Montgomery County is on the Maryland- Virginia border about 25 miles outside Washington, D.C.
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