On December 13th, 2017, around 1 AM, a Hermiston Police Officer tried to stop a vehicle for a traffic violation near the intersection of South 1st Street and West Highland Avenue. The driver did not stop and a short vehicle pursuit ensued. The pursuing officer lost sight of the vehicle so Hermiston Police with the assistance of the Oregon State Police, surrounded the area and began searching for the car. The vehicle was found on SW 16th Street, where it had crashed into a house after hitting an electrical supply box. There were no injuries resulting from the crash, and the driver had already fled the area.
Inside the vehicle, officers found a handgun and identification card. Officers gathered information from various sources before speaking with the person whose identification was found. Their investigation ultimately led them to 1630 W Sunland Ave, apartment B8, where they found William Richard Rhoades, age 27, of Hermiston, who officers believe was the driver of the vehicle. The identification card in the vehicle belonged to an associate of Rhoades, who was not involved in the chase.
Officers also found over 75 pounds of marijuana in the apartment, along with evidence of illegal marijuana sales such as packaging material, scales, and paraphernalia associated with a clandestine butane honey oil laboratory. Butane honey oil is a product made from marijuana extract through a highly volatile process, which often results in large explosions. In addition to the handgun seized from the car, officers seized two rifles and two handguns from the apartment, one of which had previously been reported stolen.
Rhoades was lodged at the Umatilla County Jail in Pendleton. He is accused of Attempting to Elude a Police Officer, Reckless Driving, Hit and Run, Theft in the First Degree, Unlawful Possession, Delivery, and Manufacturing of Marijuana, and Felon in Possession of a Firearm. He was also arrested on an unrelated warrant, charging him with failing to appear in court.
“Police work involves multiple facets with traffic enforcement being just one of those. Here we have a person who commits a traffic violation and then a traffic crime by eluding. The tenacity of our officers and the assistance of our partner agencies should give some solace to people knowing there are women and men who wear the uniform and work throughout the night to hold criminals accountable. Though Oregon has decriminalized marijuana, the amounts of marijuana being sold on the black market continues to be staggering as evidenced by this seizure.” stated Chief Jason Edmiston.