On February 12, 2022, at approximately, 1:15 a.m., Idaho Falls Police Officers were performing a DUI traffic stop and investigation in the area of Whittier Street and N Freeman Avenue which, by necessity, blocked the roadway for a short time. While on this stop, an uninvolved vehicle driven by Christian Martinez drove down the street, which was clearly impassable, ultimately coming nose to nose with an Idaho Falls Police vehicle with their overhead red and blue lights activated.
The driver then abruptly, coming very close to officers and others in the roadway, performed a three-point turn and drove away at a high rate of speed in the direction he had come from.
Officers recognized the driver and vehicle as one that had fled from an Idaho Falls Police Officer earlier in the night, February 11, shortly before midnight. In that instance, an IFPD Officer was patrolling in the area of E 17th Street and S Holmes Avenue when they observed the vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed east on 17th Street. The Officer attempted to perform a traffic stop by activating their overhead red and blue police lights.
Despite this, Officers observed the vehicle accelerate through multiple red lights, traveling at speeds near 100 miles per hour on 17th Street. The Officer discontinued attempts to pursue after losing sight of the vehicle and for safety reasons. The Officer was able to collect a vehicle description, including a distinctive license plate, and began the process of locating Martinez through other means.
When Officers encountered the car and driver again at 1:15 a.m., Officers attempted to perform a traffic stop on the vehicle. At that time Officers had probable cause to arrest the driver for Felony Eluding. Officers also observed behaviors indicating the driver was likely driving under the influence or otherwise impaired, supporting the need to stop the driver for their safety and the safety of other motorists and members of the public.
Officers activated overhead lights and sirens, however, Martinez did not yield and instead continued to flee from Officers. Officers initiated a vehicle pursuit during which Martinez was observed driving recklessly at speeds well over the posted limits, swerving into other lanes, and disregarding traffic control signs multiple times. Due to the late hour, roadways were largely clear of other motorists. Lights and sirens from police vehicles provided warnings for any vehicles that were on the roadways at the time.
During the pursuit, Martinez left the Idaho Falls city limits driving into Bonneville County before ultimately leading officers into Jefferson County.
At one point during the pursuit, a Bonneville County Sheriff’s Deputy placed a spike strip in the path of the pursuit in an attempt to disable the vehicle. A Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy also deployed a spike strip when the vehicle reached Jefferson County. The suspect’s vehicle incurred multiple flat tires from the two spike strip deployments, however, the suspect continued to flee from Officers. The flat tires did prevent the suspect vehicle from continuing to travel at high rates of speed.
An Idaho State Police Trooper performed a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) Maneuver which successfully stopped the forward momentum of the vehicle. When the vehicle came to a stop, Martinez attempted to flee from the vehicle on foot into a nearby snow-filled irrigation ditch.
Idaho Falls Police Officers, including an Idaho Falls Police K9 unit, and other assisting law enforcement officers exited their vehicles to pursue Martinez. The IFPD K9 Officer directed Martinez to stop or risk apprehension via K9. Martinez stopped running at that time and was taken into police custody.
While Martinez was being detained, officers noted smoke billowing from the engine compartment of the suspect vehicle. Within a few moments, flames became visible and the vehicle was engulfed in flames. Multiple Officers attempted to utilize fire extinguishers to stop the blaze but were unsuccessful.
Before the flames overtook the vehicle, officers were able to locate a package of beer with multiple bottles missing and a near-empty bottle of whiskey within the vehicle. Officers noted that Martinez exhibited multiple signs of inebriation, including bloodshot glassy eyes, slow and slurred speech, and the smell of alcohol on his breath. Martinez later admitted to drinking too much to be driving.
Idaho Falls Police Officers were assisted by Bonneville County Sheriff’s Deputies, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputies, and Idaho State Police Troopers at various points in the pursuit. We offer our sincere thanks to each of those law enforcement agencies for their assistance, as well as Central District Fire for their assistance putting out the vehicle fire.
Christian Martinez, a 22-year-old male resident of Rigby, Idaho, was arrested for two counts Felony Eluding/Attempting to Elude a Police Officer in a Motor Vehicle, Felony Driving Under the Influence (Third or Subsequent Offense), Reckless Driving, Driving Without Privileges, Resisting and Obstructing Arrest, and a Felony Warrant, and was booked into the Bonneville County Jail.