Sebastopol police arrest driver after 11-mile, 120-mph chase
By RANDI ROSSMANN
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 7:42 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 1:20 p.m.
A driver who wouldn’t pull over for a Sebastopol police officer early Wednesday triggered an 11-mile pursuit into Santa Rosa, reaching more than 120 mph in his attempt to escape, Sebastopol police reported.
The driver stopped after he turned into an east Santa Rosa cul-de-sac with police behind him and nowhere left to drive.
Sebastopol officers pulled out their guns and ordered the man out from behind the wheel of his black BMW. The driver, Benjamin Patrick Keator, 31, of Redwood Valley got out briefly, then got back in and drove farther down the dead-end street before giving up, Lt. James Conner said.
Officers found three pounds of packaged marijuana and a small amount of methamphetamine in the car, plus a used meth pipe. Keator also was wanted on three felony arrest warrants, Conner said.
The event started in Sebastopol at about 12:40 a.m., when Keator ran a red light at Sebastopol’s main intersection.
The driver stopped briefly but took off again and the pursuit was on.
The BMW returned downtown, weaving around the square and twice driving fast past the police station, Conner said.
Before heading onto Highway 12, the car went the wrong way around the square and almost hit a second patrol car joining the chase.
It then headed east on Highway 12 toward Santa Rosa with two of the city’s three officers on duty in pursuit.
At Llano Road, Officer David Edney reported he was driving 100 mph and keeping pace with the BMW. By the time they reached Stony Point Road, he was at 120 mph and the BMW was pulling away.
In east Santa Rosa, the BMW turned onto Farmers Lane, raced up the street and then blew through a red light as the driver sped onto eastbound Highway 12, Conner said.
Just east of Brush Creek Road, Keator turned into the cul-de-sac.
Edney and Officer Joe Furry arrested Keator on suspicion of felony car pursuit, driving under the influence of drugs, possessing marijuana for sale, driving on a suspended license, violating his felony probation and on the three warrants.
Keator was being held Wednesday in the Sonoma County Jail without bail.
Conner said the pursuit occurred at an hour where traffic was minimal and the highest speeds were on a straight highway.
Under those conditions Edney had the option to continue, Conner said.
“As long as they’re driving safely and the pursuit is in control,” he said..