A man being pursued by the South Dakota State Patrol Wednesday morning crashed the stolen pickup truck he was driving into the retaining wall at the Clay County Courthouse in Vermillion.
It turned out that Jada Coover, 24, of Sioux City, was late for his own trial.
After crashing the truck, he fled on foot into the courthouse and into the courtroom where the jury for his trial -- on a charge of attempting to tamper with anhydrous ammonia -- had just been released after Coover failed to show on time. Anhydrous ammonia is an ingredient used for making methamphetamine.
Coover, whom Clay County Sheriff Andy Howe said was "incoherent and combative," attempted to barricade himself in the courtroom. His charge into the courthouse alarmed authorities. "We didn't know until he was in custody and we patted him down," the sheriff said. "When someone runs from the police, then into the courthouse ... we were sincerely concerned he was there to hurt the judge or cause harm to someone."
Officers from the Sheriff's Office, the Vermillion Police and the University of South Dakota Public Safety Department responded to assist in clearing people from the courthouse. An agent of the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation and a highway trooper were also on hand after waiting to testify at Coover's trial.
Coover was arrested again, this time on charges including a warrant for failure to appear in court, felony eluding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, disorderly conduct, grand theft possession of stolen property, a Woodbury County warrant for meth possession and a Sioux County, Iowa, warrant for possession of burglary tools.
The incident began when the Clay County Sheriff's office received a request to locate a pickup suspected of a hit-and-run on Interstate 29 in Union County. A South Dakota highway trooper was in pursuit westbound on Highway 50 into Vermillion, where Coover crashed near the courthouse. The pickup was stolen earlier Wednesday morning from Sioux City.
Howe said the incident began about 8:50 a.m. "The whole works, including the pursuit, took 10 minutes," he said. Authorities suspect Coover was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Blood and urine samples have been sent to the state lab in Pierre, Howe said.
Coover is being held on a $25,000 bond for failure to appear.
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