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Utah fugitive suffers Taser wounds, dog bites after wild chase

Published August 2, 2012 8:19 am

Crime • Joseph Lee Chatwin had been on the lam since July 17 escape in Farmington.
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It was back behind bars for Joseph Lee Chatwin — after the fugitive recovered from dog bites and Taser wounds he sustained at the end of a wild, high-speed chase Wednesday night through the Salt Lake Valley.

It was Chatwin, 40, who allegedly kicked out the window of a Farmington police squad car a few weeks ago and escaped custody. Since then, Wasatch Front police had been on the lookout for him, staking out some of his known haunts. Wednesday night, that vigilance paid off when he was spotted at a Sandy residence and then drove away, said Jim Phelps from the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team.

Chatwin reportedly was in a stolen car when the chase began with speeds topping 90 mph. Officers twice spiked the tires of the vehicle near 5400 South and State Street, but Chatwin just kept going on the car's rims. When the car finally ground to a halt, Chatwin got out and tried to steal another car from a woman driver stopped at a nearby traffic signal.

"He actually went up to her car and pulled open the door. Our officers were immediately on top of him. He reached for a handgun in his waistband, but because of the close proximity of the female driver our officers used great restraint, using a Taser on him. At the same time, a canine officer unleashed his dog on the suspect," Phelps said Thursday.

The woman driver, though shaken, was uninjured.

Chatwin was treated at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray for dog bites and the Taser wounds. Early Friday morning he was back in a Utah State Prison cell for violating his parole. Chatwin faces numerous additional charges, Phelps said, including possession of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a restricted person. Chatwin also was wanted on suspicion of numerous vehicle burglary and credit card theft counts.

One officer was treated for a dog bite at the scene and released, but no officers were injured in the struggle to subdue Chatwin.

"This all unfolded very, very fast for us last night," Phelps said. "At one point during the initial chase, he swerved into oncoming traffic and we terminated pursuit out of concern for public safety, [but] we had several unmarked units in the area, and one of them spotted him" a short time later.

Chatwin was arrested by Farmington police July 17 on a no-bail warrant for a parole violation when he made his escape and allegedly stole a nearby SUV, which was later found abandoned in Salt Lake City.

A 23-year-old female accomplice who had been arrested with him in Farmington also attempted to escape but was quickly recaptured.

remims@sltrib.com