It’s back to prison for chase suspect

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COEUR d’ALENE — For almost 20 years, Steven Patrick Droogs’ address has been a prison cell.

While briefly on parole last year, Droogs, 41, had an encounter with Kootenai County sheriff’s deputies near Bayview that resulted in an extended jail stay and a felony battery charge.

He’s headed back to prison now, but not before he takes care of another matter in Nez Perce County, where he will be transported.

At a Friday morning sentencing in Coeur d’Alene, Droogs said he had acted rashly a year ago when he eluded deputies near Bayview, hid in the attic of a rural residence, choked a police dog and punched officers.

First District Judge Rich Christensen sentenced Droogs to a fixed six-year prison term with 10 years indeterminate for the crime.

The way the February 2017 incident unfolded — just four months after Droogs had been released from prison in Orofino after serving 11 years for manslaughter and a firearms enhancement — concerned the judge.

“You were not under the influence of anything?” Christensen asked.

“I was sober,” Droogs replied.

“Police officers get very nervous in these types of situations, and they shouldn’t have to be subjected to the kind of fear you impose,” Christensen said.

Deputies said Droogs appeared to be intoxicated Feb. 3 as he walked along Perimeter Road in northern Kootenai County around 7:20 a.m.

Droogs gave a deputy a false name and fled on foot when he was asked if he was carrying a gun. He reportedly told the deputy he was armed with an assault rifle and told the deputy to kill him because he wasn’t going back to prison. Droogs was shot with a Taser, but continued to run, according deputies.

The foot chase led to a home on the 17000 block of Perimeter Road. Deputies got permission from the owner to search the residence and discovered Droogs in the attic. He failed to come out after being doused with pepper spray.

When deputies released the Kootenai County K9, “Droogs choked and punched the K9 and then also punched the deputy several times,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“I could have acted better that day,” Droogs told Christensen. “I made some asinine decisions. I never meant when I started that day out, to hurt anybody.”

Deputy prosecutor Art Verharen said Droogs appeared to want to commit “suicide by cop,” and he urged the court to sentence Droogs to a unified 20-year term, but Droogs’ attorney, Jed Nixon, asked for leniency.

Calling the deputies’ account of the February incident as overly dramatic, Nixon called for a brief prison term for his client.

“The conduct does not deserve a 20-year unified sentence,” Nixon said. “He doesn’t want to be in his 50s or 60s and sitting in prison.”

Droogs was convicted of manslaughter in 2005 for the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Travis L. Palmer at a Lewiston Jack in the Box restaurant.

In the fatal shooting, Droogs, who has an extensive criminal history, testified that the gun that killed Palmer had accidentally discharged in his pocket when he was digging for change.

He kept the gun as protection, he said, because he was dealing methamphetamine.

Droogs has new charges pending in Nez Perce County, according to court records.

The latest case is sealed pending his arrival in Lewiston.

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