Onlookers cause problem during Vinton police chase

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VINTON, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A man wanted on a federal warrant escaped Vinton Police after a high speed chase through the downtown area Wednesday night. And that pursuit was hampered when people trying to record the chase on cellphones got in the way of pursuing officers.

Kody Harris, 35, is wanted on federal parole violation charges. Harris escaped from officers after abandoning his car.

But police did arrest April Baldwin, 37, who was also in the vehicle with Harris. Officers found her in a wooded area near the Cedar River. That’s where they believed Harris escaped as well.

Vinton Police Chief Ted Paxton says he’s never had an incident when spectators got in the way of officers during a pursuit. People trying to get video of the chase actually went out into the street and one pursuing officer had to swerve sharply to avoid hitting them.

It all started a little after 10:00 o’clock Wednesday night when police got word that Kody Harris was at a home on D Avenue in Vinton.

Harris saw police and took off at more than 80 miles per hour through downtown Vinton. He and his passenger ended up on a dead end street near the river.

Josh Adrian lives on that street and saw police go by.

He then saw a group of five young adults from around the corner who complained a police car almost hit them.

“It was mainly one individual who was really upset that he almost got hit. I was surprised they (police) didn’t arrest them but they (police) were probably busy with other stuff,” Adrian said.

Adrian said the group admitted they were using phone cameras to record police in pursuit and had been in the street. He said they were on their way down the street to confront officers and he saw some signs of drinking.

“What I saw, they all had a beer in their hand to walk down the street to talk to the cops. Then it dawned on them approaching cops with a beer in their hand probably wasn’t a smart idea,” he said.

Adrian heard from the group later that the police, searching for the suspect, had told them to go away.

Vinton’s chief didn’t want to talk about the incident in more detail or provide any video from officer cameras.

Josh Squires was one of several residents who heard about the incident and talked to TV9 and called the situation potentially dangerous.

“People need to use common sense when they’re doing something like this (video of police chases). Obviously, if there’s a car chase going on you need to be out of the way,” Squires said.

Police say Harris is not considered dangerous.

But officers still said he might be in the area and warned residents to make sure to lock both house and car doors.