BURNETT COUNTY––Diego Garza, 44, attempted to flee the probation office three weeks ago, which led to a fight involving four officers and a chase into the woods. Garza tased an officer repeatedly and eventually was taken into custody after being tased multiple times.
He has been charged with possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, a class C felony, two counts of battery to law enforcement officer, a class H felony, disarming a peace officer, a class H felony, resisting an officer, a class A misdemeanor, possession of THC and possession of drug paraphernalia, both misdemeanors.
According to the criminal complaint, on Jan. 16 Burnett County Detective Jamison Wiltrout was called to respond to the probation office to take Garza into custody.
Garza was speaking with a probation agent when Wiltrout arrived and told him he was under arrest. Garza started walking towards Wiltrout.
There was a struggle in the hallway with Garza trying to push past the detective. Then Wiltrout grabbed hold of Garza, taking him to the ground in the probation office.
Chief Deputy Scott Burns was in the lobby area and was locked out. Wiltrout eventually hit the door handle, allowing Burns access.
Burns deployed his taser and struck Garza in the abdominal area, who then fell to the floor outside of the probation office. The probes from the taser became disconnected from the taser, and Garza stood up and began running towards the woods.
“He was pretty strung out on meth at the time,” Burnett County Sheriff Ron Wilhelm said at a meeting this week when detailing parts of the event. “It was pretty tough to take him down for a while there.”
Wiltrout chased Garza down and tackled him in the snow. While the two were fighting on the ground, Wiltrout felt some electric shocks and realized Garza had begun tasing him.
Burns approached to help Wiltrout in the scuffle when he dropped his taser, and Garza picked it up. Wiltrout continued to struggle, gaining control of Garza and his hand with the taser. Wiltrout was continually tased in the thigh, wrists and hands.
The complaint says, “Garza did not appear to feel pain at this point.”
Burns was also tangled in the wires during the fight and received three or four shocks. Wiltrout had several burn marks on his thigh and temporarily lost feeling in his hands from nerve damage. Wiltrout was unable to fight or draw his service weapon, the complaint said.
Garza then began again retreating towards the woods.
Burnett County Sheriff’s Deputies, Travis Thiex and Josh Henry, arrived on the scene about five minutes after the incident began and were notified that Garza had taken Burns’ taser and went into the woods.
They caught up with Garza in the woods and ordered him to the ground, but he continued walking away. Thiex pointed his pistol at Garza and told him to stop. Garza pointed the taser at Thiex and pulled the trigger, but it did not fire.
Thiex fired his taser and Garza dropped to the ground, he then deployed his pepper spray when Garza lunged for his taser. Garza was sprayed again and still did not drop the taser. At this point, Henry fired his taser at Garza and he went to the ground again.
Henry fired the taser several more times as Garza attempted to break the wires. Thiex struck Garza with his baton on his hand. Garza continued to resist and tried to flee, but eventually collapsed and fell to his knees.
Burnett County Sheriff’s Detective Julie Mead searched the vehicle and saw a purse in the center console. Inside she allegedly found four capped syringes, a small gem-style bag with trace amounts of a crystalline substance and a glass smoking pipe that smelled like marijuana.
She found another gem-style bag in the vehicle with a crystalline substance and a plastic bag tied off with green plant material. A sample was tested and came back positive for marijuana.
The next day the vehicle search continued. Mead found two glass bubble pipes with white residue that later tested positive for methamphetamine.
She continued to find baggies with small amounts of meth. Then two pill containers were found with over 20 grams of meth.
A search of the rear cargo area uncovered .22 caliber bullets locked in a sentry safe. Also in the safe they found a ibuprofen bottle with 172.7 grams that field-tested positively as meth.
Garza remains in custody at the Burnett County Jail. He could face up to $100,000 fine and 40 years imprisoned if convicted for possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine. He also faces $10,000 in fines and six years imprisoned for both counts of battery to law enforcement and disarming a peace officer.
He will have his preliminary hearing on Feb. 13 in front of Judge Melissia Mogen at the Burnett County Courthouse.