Driver arrested after minivan rams police cruiser, then hits retaining wall

A driver who police said rammed his minivan into the front of an occupied police car then sped off, only to lose control and hit a retaining wall, is in police custody.

A preliminary investigation suggests the man intentionally backed rapidly into the police vehicle in the parking lot of a temporary housing building in the culmination of a menacing encounter on the streets of Victoria, police said. Whether drugs and alcohol played a part is being investigated.

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The incident happened just before 11:30 p.m. on Friday, when a patrol officer driving westbound in the 600-block of Finlayson Street noted a minivan travelling at high speed in the opposite direction. The minivan crossed the centre line of the road, narrowly missing the police vehicle, Victoria Police Const. Cam MacIntyre said Saturday.

When the police cruiser, with lights and sirens on, turned around, the minivan followed suit and continued to closely approach the police vehicle, police said. MacIntyre said the minivan driver might have been trying to bait or injure the officer.

Determining that the minivan driver was a risk to public safety, the police officer followed the vehicle to the former Comfort Inn in the 3000-block of Blanshard Street, which was purchased by the province as a temporary housing facility for people without homes during the pandemic.

The minivan then rammed into the police cruiser in the parking lot, causing damage to both vehicles but most significantly to the minivan, said MacIntyre.

The driver then sped off, lost control and struck a concrete retaining wall farther down Blanshard Street, police said. Patrol officers, with the assistance of Saanich police officers, arrested the driver.

The driver was taken by paramedics to hospital before being transported to jail cells at the Victoria Police Department, where he is expected to remain until he goes to court.

The police officer whose cruiser was rammed sustained non-life-threatening injuries, for which he was treated at the scene.

Chief Del Manak said he’s thankful the officer was not seriously injured or killed in the incident. “However, this is a reminder of the risks our officers face every day while working to keep our community safe.”

Victoria police detectives are still gathering information about the incident. Anyone who witnessed it or has information about it is asked to call the department’s report desk at 250-995-7654, ext. 1. To make an anonymous report, call Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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