Photo: Christopher Todd Franchi
Santa Barbara County – The chase began on the night of March 6th when officers from the City of Ventura Police Department attempted to contact 52-year-old Ventura resident Christopher Todd Franchi in connection with a reported domestic disturbance.
According to Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover, Franchi “was being pursued” by the VPD patrol unit as he headed northbound on U.S. 101 while “hauling a small U-Haul trailer” and failed to yield to the cops’ attempt to conduct a traffic stop on his vehicle.
As Franchi drove north, the VPD officers suspended their pursuit at the Santa Barbara County line as a SBSD patrol unit took over the pursuit.
At that point, Franchi began driving “erratically” and in a manner threatening to other motorists on the freeway. As Franchi “intentionally drove toward other cars,” a second SBSD until joined the chase and attempted a forced traffic stop as they approached Summerland, some six miles north of the county line.
With emergency lights blazing and sirens blaring, Franchi continued driving recklessly, “veering from side to side” in what appeared to be an attempt to free the trailer he was towing from the vehicle hitch.
The chase continued for another thirty miles with Franchi driving dangerously through Summerland, Montecito, Santa Barbara, and Goleta. As he approached the Gaviota area, CHP units deployed a spike strip across the roadway. Undaunted, Franchi drove over the spike strip, shredding the two front tires of his vehicle, finally coming to a halt at the side of the freeway.
At that point, Franchi found himself surrounded by cops giving him verbal commands to exit his vehicle. He refused, commenting that he was armed and would cause harm to the cops and to himself. At that point, a K-9 team was dispatched and Franchi “eventually exited his vehicle” to be taken into custody.
Franchi was transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, where was booked on charged of criminal threats, assault with a deadly weapon, recklessly evading an officer, resisting arrest, and driving with a suspended license. His bail was set at $75,000.