Member of Quileute Tribe Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Vehicle Assault on Tribal Police Officer
Defendant Stole Car, Rammed Police Vehicle Three Times and Drove at Another Officer Attempting to Place Spike Strips to Stop Stolen Car
A 33-year-old member of the Quileute Tribe was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 6 years in prison for assaulting a federal officer and stealing a car on tribal land, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. JUANITA ELENA PENN-SALAZAR, was arrested April 11, 2018, after a police chase on the Quileute Reservation in La Push, Washington. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton imposed three years of supervised release to follow the prison term.
According to records filed in the case, PENN-SALAZAR stole a Toyota Camry outside a small store on the reservation. She had asked the car’s owner for a ride and when the owner refused, PENN-SALAZAR smashed the car window and took the vehicle. A Tribal police officer responded to the report of a stolen car. As he drove on the reservation looking for the vehicle, PENN-SALAZAR pulled out from a subdivision and struck the patrol car. PENN-SALAZAR fled in the stolen car at speeds over 80 miles-per-hour. PENN-SALAZAR drove the stolen Camry into the patrol car two more times – the final time pinning the officer in the car. Other law enforcement officers pursued PENN-SALAZAR through the reservation. At one point, she aimed and accelerated the stolen vehicle at an officer who was placing spike strips to try to stop the car. Fortunately, that officer was able to jump out of the way. Ultimately, PENN-SALAZAR was taken into custody.
Toxicology reports show PENN-SALAZAR was under the influence of methamphetamine and marijuana at the time of the chase.
In September 2018, PENN-SALAZAR pleaded guilty to assault on a federal officer and theft of a motor vehicle.
The case was investigated by the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca Cohen.