Centralia Police: Man Who Fled Officers Last Month Arrested After Pursuit Into Cowlitz County

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A man accused of fleeing Centralia police officers last month after being caught stealing catalytic converters was arrested Wednesday after a chase that began in Centralia and continued into Cowlitz County, according to a news release from the Centralia Police Department. 

Ethan J. Lazo, 27, of Vancouver, was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, attempting to elude a police officer, hit and run, possession of motor vehicle theft tools, possession of a controlled substance, and a felony warrant out of Oregon for forgery. 

Officers initially responded at about 9:15 a.m. to the 1300 block of Kresky Avenue following a report of a suspicious vehicle with no license plate with two passed out people inside. 

“Upon contact, the officer observed narcotics and paraphernalia within reach of the driver who sped away when the officer woke him up,” according to the news release. “Suspecting the driver was under the influence, the officer pursued the suspect through Centralia, into Chehalis, then onto I-5. The driver continued southbound into Cowlitz County until Castle Rock Police were able to deflate the vehicle’s tires with a spike strip.”

Lazo stopped a short distance later. Centralia police — with assistance from the Chehalis Police Department, Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team detectives, the Castle Rock Police Department and the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office — took Lazo and his passenger into custody without further incident. According to police, a search warrant later served on the vehicle revealed suspected fentanyl pills and methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and tools used to steal catalytic converters. 

The release noted that Lazo is believed to be the same person who sped away from Centralia police on Magnolia Street last month. The issue drew media attention due to the fact that officers discontinued the chase as it moved through a neighborhood based on their interpretation of new state laws restricting officers’ ability to pursue suspects. 

State law prohibits police from getting involved in high-speed pursuits with anyone not suspected of driving under the influence or violent or sexual crimes.

"Because of current Washington state law, officers were prohibited from pursuing and were forced to allow the suspect and his female passenger to get away," wrote the Centralia Police Department in a report on the incident.

Lazo was scheduled to appear in Lewis County Superior Court Thursday.