Valley chase suspect’s statements stem from ‘mental issues,’ lawyer says

Photo by Arizona DPS

Authorities said a 31-year-old man arrested after leading officials on a  Valley car chase and crashing his vehicle into another in Tempe made anti-government statements, but his attorney said the statements stem from mental health issues, not political beliefs.

Mitchell Timothy Taebel of Long Beach, Indiana, and Los Angeles remains jailed on suspicion of endangerment and other crimes after being arrested following the crash Jan. 24 in Tempe.

Mitchell Taebel (MCSO)

Police said the chase began when Mr. Taebel was speeding and wouldn’t pull over and ended when Mr. Taebel’s SUV collided with a vehicle driven by a 47-year-old woman who suffered non-life threatening injuries.

During Wednesday’s chase that started in Buckeye and ended in Tempe near Arizona State University, Mr. Taebel called the Goodyear Police Department, who tried to get Mr. Taebel to pull over but he hanged up the phone.

An Arizona Department of Public Safety negotiator also contacted Mr. Taebel, who told the official he did not want to stop due to the unlawfulness of the traffic stop and wanted a peaceful resolution to the incident, records show.

He also cited a federal code and stated it would be lawful to take an officer’s life to preserve his freedom.

Attorney Brian Russo said Mr. Taebel was “previously diagnosed with some mental health issues” that haven’t been addressed.

Records state Mr. Taebel drove as high as 115 mph.

After the collision in Tempe, authorities arrested Mr. Taebel and transported him to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Fourth Avenue Jail.

There, he stated there was no reasonable suspicion or probable cause for the traffic stop. He also said he was suing multiple police agencies for violating his rights.

DPS said Mr. Taebel has an extensive criminal history that includes violent felonies and misdemeanors throughout several states and has served time in prison in New York.

“We are aware that Mr. Taebel has anti-government views,” DPS stated in a release.

Mr. Taebel faces charges including unlawful flight from law enforcement, multiple aggravated assaults, reckless driving, exceeding 85 mph.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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