FORT BRAGG – Joshua Wade Bennett might be a free man today if he had a little patience. But last Saturday night he drew attention to himself and set in motion a series of events that landed him in jail once again, facing drug, evasion, and other charges.
According to the Mendocino Sheriff’s Office, Bennett was driving through southern Fort Bragg along the Shoreline Highway, near the Woodside RV Park and the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, and about a mile and half from his residence in the wooded inland area south of Fort Bragg. He was traveling with a female passenger who was not identified. It was just before 11 pm when patrol deputies noticed him in a black Honda Del Sol tailgating another car.
The deputies began to follow, but when Bennett crossed the Hare Creek Bridge, he made a sudden lane change from the center of the highway to the right lane entering Highway 20, also known as Fort Bragg-Willits Road. The deputies then proceeded to initiate a traffic stop using their emergency lights, but Bennett accelerated to 75 miles per hour, 30 over the speed limit. He quickly turned left onto South Harbor Drive towards the Noyo Mooring Basin, and then tried to make the right turn onto Basin Street. He would have been headed down a long dead end to Dolphin Cove, but he lost control of the car, spinning around facing the pursuing deputies.
Bennett then leaped out of the car, leaving his passenger behind, and ran for the woods up the embankment on the right side of the road behind the storage lot. The deputies chased him, and about 40 yards up the hill he attempted to hide in the bushes and under cover of darkness. They spotted and caught him, bringing him in without further incident.
Once he was detained, it did not take long to figure out why he had tried so hard to get away. First off, his drivers license had been suspended, and he had three active misdemeanor warrants out of the Ten Mile Superior Court (in Fort Bragg) for probation violations and drug paraphernalia possession from an October 23 arrest. More importantly, he was in possession of 13.5 grams of methamphetamine, enough to determine it was for sale rather than just personal use.
Bennett was likely well known to the deputies for his violent past. Arrest records going back to 2008 show an arrest in January of that year for assault with a deadly weapon likely to cause great bodily injury, firing a weapon at an inhabited dwelling, child endangerment, and stalking. No further details of that incident were available. Five years later to the day, on January 28, 2013, Bennett was charged with domestic battery, false imprisonment, and possession of drug paraphernalia. In September of that year he was again charged with domestic battery and probation violation.
For this latest incident, Joshua Wade Bennett (also identified as Joshua Vernon Bennett) was booked at the Mendocino County Jail on charges of recklessly evading a peace officer, possession for sale and transportation of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, driving on a suspended license, and his outstanding warrants. Bail was set at $67,500.