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Man accused of pinning police officer with stolen truck

WAILUKU — Bail was set at $16,000 for a man who allegedly reversed a stolen truck, dragging a police officer and pinning her against a police vehicle.

Eric Vega Jr., 35, who gave no local address, was charged with first-degree theft, first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and resisting arrest.

Police reported finding Vega sleeping in the 2020 Ford Ranger pickup truck at the entrance to Paia Elementary School on Monday. Officers tried to get Vega out of the truck, said Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Temas.

Instead, Vega started the truck and put it in reverse, dragging an officer and pinning her against a police vehicle, Temas said. He said Vega likely knew the officer was injured when he drove away.

The work truck was reported stolen after it was last seen behind the water fountain at Kahului Airport at 3 p.m. Oct. 1, according to police.

“He’s a danger to the community,” Temas said, in asking for Vega’s bail to be increased from $10,000 to $16,000 during his initial appearance Friday in Wailuku District Court.

Temas said Vega has prior convictions for second-degree theft, first-degree bail jumping, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, abuse, driving without a license, reckless driving and possessing drug parpahernalia.

A methamphetamine smoking pipe was found on Vega when he was arrested Wednesday, Temas said.

Vega asked to be released on supervision. He has three children and was supposed to be starting a job, said Deputy Public Defender Andres Tobar.

Judge Chris Dunn set bail at $16,000.

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