By Ryan Lewallen, County 17
A Montana resident is in custody following a late-night pursuit where he allegedly stole several vehicles and injured three people including a state trooper, local law enforcement officials said Thursday.
Great Falls, Montana, resident Roger Forsman, 24, is charged with misdemeanor eluding as well as multiple felony counts of aggravated assault, theft, property destruction, and attempting to or causing bodily harm to a peace officer, court documents state.
He is also charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
The charges stem from an Aug. 18 incident where Forsman allegedly crashed a stolen 2015 Dodge Ram with a flatbed trailer into a Ford F-150 near mile marker 120 on Interstate 90 around 9:50 p.m. and fled the scene, according to Lt. Paul Pownall with the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).
Both vehicles reportedly overturned, ejecting and seriously injuring one of the occupants in the F-150, who was later Life Flighted with serious injuries, according to discussions during Forsman’s arraignment before Circuit Court Judge Paul S. Phillips on Aug. 19.
Another occupant in the Ford was not seriously injured but was transported to Campbell County Health (CCH) for evaluation, Pownall said, adding that the Dodge Ram had been reported stolen from Buffalo.
Forsman was gone when emergency personnel arrived, but he was later found driving a stolen 2021 Ford F-250 near Montgomery Road and Force Road by a deputy on his way to investigate a report regarding that vehicle, according to Pownall.
The suspect allegedly attempted to crash into the deputy, who managed to avoid the collision and pursued Forsman eastbound onto I-90, onto Force Road, and eventually onto Hwy 50 where the suspect drove through fencing alongside Denbury Resources, resulting in significant damage, Pownall said.
A Wyoming Highway Patrol (WHP) trooper who was in the area responded to assist but was injured when Forsman crashed the Ford into his patrol vehicle broadside, per Pownall.
The trooper was transported to the hospital for a concussion among other injuries, though he is expected to return to work this week, according to Campbell County Deputy and Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Reade who spoke during Forsman’s arraignment.
Forsman reportedly continued northbound onto Hwy 50, where a Gillette Police officer attempting to assist by deploying spike strips narrowly avoided being struck when the suspect drove directly at the officer, according to Pownall.
The suspect fled on foot after driving the stolen Ford westbound through a field south of High Plains Community Church, where it was later found abandoned, Pownall said.
Forsman allegedly then stole a red Jeep Gladiator from the area of the Bell Nob Golf Course, where he allegedly crashed through a gate and caused over $1,000 in damage, Phillips said during Forsman’s arraignment.
Area law enforcement searching for Forsman saw the Jeep Gladiator leave the area, but they had no reason to suspect it was involved until it was reported stolen, Pownall said.
State troopers located the vehicle traveling eastbound on I-90 at 104 miles per hour near mile marker 169 and successfully disabled the vehicle with spike strips during a brief pursuit, Pownall said, adding that Forsman was taken into custody and transported to the Campbell County Detention Center.
During Forsman’s arraignment, Reade requested that Phillips set bond at $250,000 cash only and stated that the state perceives Forsman as a significant threat to the safety of the community given the fact that he led law enforcement officers on a multi-county pursuit while allegedly under the influence of drugs.
“He did these things, your honor,” Reade said. “The evidence is overwhelming.”
Forsman objected to Reade’s characterization, stating that he has a recent pattern of good behavior and has been clean for several years while working as a licensed addiction counselor in Montana.
“It’s not like I’m out there doing this every day. I’m not,” Forsman said. “I made a mistake. I made a bad choice.”
“No, Mr. Forsman a bad choice is vegetables on a pizza,” he said. “You’re accused of an almost incredible number of criminal acts here.”
Phillips set Forsman’s bond at $500,000 cash only.