Union-Bulletin Court Report

A Salem, Ore., man accused of injuring officers, damaging patrol cars and leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase was ordered to receive a competency evaluation Monday in Walla Walla County Superior Court.

Tomas F. Franco, 58, was charged with four counts of first-degree assault, one of third-degree assault, two counts of first-degree malicious mischief, one of second-degree malicious mischief, attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle and intimidating a witness.

At about 5:30 p.m. Aug. 10, an officer was making an arrest in an unrelated incident near Sixth Avenue and Main Street, according to police. Franco saw the arrest and began circling the block, blowing a trumpet, and yelling

at the officer, the release


The officer had recently testified in a trial against Franco, who was out of jail awaiting sentencing. Franco was told to leave the area or he would be arrested, the release stated.

At about 10 p.m., officers responded to the 400 block of West Alder Street for a man being violent toward elderly people nearby. Officers saw Franco speed away in his truck, and tried stopping him, but he kept fleeing, police said. The pursuit continued throughout Walla Walla, with Franco allegedly stopping to try to cause patrol cars to rear-end him, the release stated.

An officer parked on Bryant Street was waiting for the pursuit to pass and Franco allegedly crossed over the road, striking the patrol vehicle’s driver’s side and causing minor injuries to the officer.

The chase went to Tamaurson Road and Bliss Lane, where Franco allegedly swerved toward a College Place fire truck, causing the truck to veer onto the sidewalk, the release stated. He then turned onto state Route 125 from Tamaurson Road and began traveling north in the southbound lane.

Franco stopped when he struck a chain-link fence at Orchard Street and Ninth Avenue, according to police. When officers stopped behind Franco, he allegedly accelerated backward into the front of a patrol car and injured the officer. Franco then allegedly drove into the front of another police car and caused minor injuries to the officer.

Franco was shot with a Taser and while being taken to a police car, he tried biting an officer, the release stated. He was evaluated by medics and taken to Walla Walla County Jail, where he has remained on a $500,000 bond.

Emily Thornton can be reached at emilythornton@wwub.com or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.

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