Reginald Everett was a wanted man. A longtime heroin addict. A burglar who had done more than a decade in prison.
But when an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper pulled Everett of Chandler over early Thursday, he didn't know that.
All officer Jacob Pruet knew was that the 1990 Buick that Everett was driving had expired tags and a loose license plate.
It was only after Everett jumped 27 feet to his death from Loop 202 in Tempe that his status as a fugitive became known, said DPS officer Frank Valenzuela.
Around 2 a.m. Thursday, Everett, 45, was driving west on Loop 202 when he was pulled over west of McClintock Drive.
Everett gave Pruet, a two-year DPS veteran, a false name, and Pruet arrested him and put him in handcuffs, Valenzuela said.
"Once he got the cuffs on him, (Everett) literally ran toward the barrier wall, which was only a few feet away, jumped over the wall and fell to his death," Valenzuela said.
Officers estimate Everett fell about 27 feet into the dry Salt River bed, striking his head on a concrete drainage structure, Valenzuela said.
"It's dark there at 2 in the morning, but there's enough light you ought to be able to tell there's a drop, but maybe he didn't know how far the drop was," Valenzuela said. "We'll probably never know."
An autopsy will reveal whether Everett was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A woman traveling with Everett was taken into custody for questioning and later released, Valenzuela said.
Officers found a small amount of drugs and drug paraphernalia when they searched the car. The woman, whose name was not released, may face charges.
Pruet has been given the option of taking a three-day paid leave, but it's unclear whether he will take it, Valenzuela said.
According to Maricopa County Superior Court records, Everett was arrested July 19 on suspicion of third-degree burglary, theft, theft of a credit card and unlawful flight.
Phoenix officers responding to a vehicle burglary call spotted Everett leaving the area in a car matching the suspect's car and tried to pull him over, court records show. A pursuit ensued and Everett was arrested about 20 minutes later in Guadalupe. On Aug. 13, Everett pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary and was scheduled to be sentenced Monday. He didn't show up and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Court records show Everett spent two years in a California prison after being convicted of burglary in 1983. In August 1988, he was sentenced to 10 years in an Arizona prison after again being convicted of burglary. Then, in 1998, he was given two concurrent prison sentences of 3 1/2 years after pleading to theft and theft of a motor vehicle in two separate cases.
Everett said he began drinking at 16 and using drugs at 18, court records show. By the time of a February 1998 arrest for stealing a car, Everett admitted using heroin daily.
Attempts to reach family members were unsuccessful.