Dash cam video released after citizen interferes with high-speed chase

Posted at 2:52 PM, Nov 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-24 00:34:24-05

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah - She thought she was being a hero, but it turns out she was more of a vigilante.

On Monday West Valley City Police released body camera video of a marine who interfered with a high-speed police chase.

The pursuit of the stolen Nissan truck left a trail of sparks along 3500 South during the early morning hours of Nov. 15.

Police say just when they thought the chase was coming to an end things got more serious, when a white pickup truck joined in the pursuit, cutting in front of law enforcement vehicles.

The driver of the pickup, marine Rachelle Fernandez, appeared to be attempting a PIT maneuver, a common but difficult technique, used by law enforcement, when you hit the back of the vehicle being pursued in order to stop it.

"At that point tunnel vision kicks in, you can't hear anything, you can just see lights and I remember seeing this guy and all I thought in my head was stop him, slow him down," Fernandez said.

Warning: Video below contains adult language. 

"It is so ridiculously dangerous for a civilian to try this, to do this without training, without proper equipment, without assisting officers," said Sgt. Robert Hamilton with West Valley City Police.

Police say Fernandez was putting in jeopardy the lives of everyone else on the road.

"Where she attempted to do it was probably one of the worst places that she could have with those vehicles and oncoming traffic, she was pushing him right into oncoming traffic," Hamilton said. "To think you are going to be able to perform this maneuver in the middle of a police pursuit, it's only done in Hollywood."

"As a civilian, as a citizen, if you see someone possibly hurt someone I think that's everybody's job, alright what can we do," Fernandez said.

Fernandez eventually backed off the chase. The alleged truck thief was arrested a short time later. Fernandez, to her surprise, was also arrested on two misdemeanor charges, but she said she has no regrets.

"I'm not a vigilante, and I'm not a hero, I was just a concerned citizen," Fernandez said.

"The training that our veterans bring home while invaluable do not translate directly into law enforcement and pursuit capabilities," Hamilton said.

Fernandez is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 7. She faces charges of failure to stop for an emergency vehicle and interfering with an arresting officer. She said she plans to fight those charges.