A man who injured a Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy when he rammed the deputy’s patrol car while trying to evade arrest has been sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Douglas County District Court Judge Shay Whitaker on Friday sentenced Joshua Kane Soto, 32, to 16 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections. Soto pleaded guilty in August to first-degree assault/threatening a police officer with a weapon, the top count he faced. The charge is a Class 3 felony. He also pleaded guilty to vehicular eluding, a Class 4 felony. Whitaker imposed a sentence of six years on that count, to be served concurrently. Lesser counts in the case were dismissed.
Soto “put himself, his passenger, other drivers and myself in an extremely dangerous situation,” the deputy told the judge in a statement read during sentencing. “This job is inherently dangerous and a profession I elected to take on and thoroughly love to do. With that said, when unforeseen injuries due to selfish, reckless and dangerous people impact others around me, the impact is hard to define.”
District Attorney George Brauchler watched the case closely.
“Our experienced prosecutors will continue vigorously to protect those who protect us. This outrageous behavior on our busiest highways endangered everyone on C-470, I-25 and County Line Road that night – not to mention the people in the neighborhood where he was finally apprehended,” Brauchler said. “Soto’s conduct makes it clear that he chooses himself over our families and our neighbors, even to the extent of harming them and our respected sheriff deputies. Prisons are built for such criminals. I am glad he is off our streets.”
Soto had moved to Colorado from California a few months previously, but he was already on bond here in a felony case. His GPS ankle monitor stopped working, and he did not report the issue. Deputies were notified and tried to pick him up on Dec. 27, 2017. Soto fled in a rented vehicle.
On Dec. 28, 2017, Soto was driving a Chrysler Sebring near C-470 and University Boulevard. Deputies again attempted to pull him over.
Soto sped away from deputies, who pursued him onto northbound Interstate 25. Soto turned around at Arapahoe Road, heading southbound on I-25 back toward Douglas County. When a marked patrol car tried to stop Soto, he drove the Sebring across several lanes of traffic and rammed the patrol car into a barrier. Soto backed up, drove forward and rammed the car a second time.
The deputy in the vehicle injured his ankle and required stitches to a cut on his forehead.
Other deputies got the Sebring off the interstate onto westbound County Line Road and stopped the car near Mercury Drive and Saturn Drive, where Soto was taken into custody.
“This was a defendant who was going to do whatever he had to to get away from law enforcement,” Deputy District Attorney Zoe Laird told the judge in asking for a sentence of 16 to 20 years in prison. “Even after the defendant is able to speed away (after ramming the deputy), that’s not the end of Soto’s actions. He continues to speed down I-25. This defendant was continually putting officers and the community in danger.”
Judge Whitaker agreed.
“The flow of those few days in December causes the court the gravest concern,” she told Soto. “The court looks at the actions that took place and the choices that were made by defendant. … I am concerned this was the second time – it had happened the night before.”
She added: “It was your actions that were going to dictate how this ended.. You were a threat to the officers and to this community.”
The sentencing range was 10-32 years in prison. The defense sought 10 years.
Whitaker also sentenced Soto to six years in prison for the Dec. 27 vehicular eluding, also to be served concurrently.