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Auto Theft Suspect in Custody After East County Pursuit

Branden Espinoza allegedly drove from Lakeside into Santee, El Cajon and La Mesa.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

A 33-year-old auto theft suspect was in custody today after he allegedly led deputies on a 15-minute pursuit through the East County in which he struck a patrol car and kept driving.

The pursuit began near Mapleview Street and Maine Avenue in Lakeside about 11 p.m. Thursday when the man refused to yield for a traffic stop, according to San Diego County sheriff's Sgt. Mike Forbes.

A deputy attempted to pull Branden Espinoza over after the lawman noticed that the Honda Accord Espinoza was driving bore a license plate that had been reported stolen, he said in a statement.

Espinoza allegedly drove southbound on Highway 67 and the pursuit went from Lakeside into Santee, El Cajon and La Mesa. Near Grossmont College Drive and Highway 125, he made an illegal turn, struck a patrol car and continued driving, Forbes said, adding no one was hurt in the crash.

The suspect eventually drove over a spike strip but continued driving with a flat front tire before stopping near Chatham and Witherspoon in La Mesa, where he and his 28-year-old female passenger were taken into custody, Forbes said.

Espinoza was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property, evading police, possession of heroin for sale, possession of ammunition, Forbes said, adding that deputies also learned that Espinoza was named in a felony warrant.

Espinoza's passenger, Cortney Brackney, was also arrested for a warrant.

—City News Service

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