Police: Delusional Vail man unsure of what drug he ingested, rams cop car near Aspen
The Aspen Times
ASPEN — A Vail man arrested at gunpoint late Friday, Nov. 24, for allegedly trying to hit a Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office deputy with his truck said he might have been under the influence of a powerful hallucinogen but wasn’t sure, according to police reports.
“Please test my blood for PCP,” Justin Helmer, 42, allegedly told deputies. “I think this is PCP. It does not feel like crystal.”
He also told deputies just after being arrested that he “just woke up” and “didn’t know what was happening,” as well as other nonsensical, delusional statements, the reports state.
“Everything felt like I was a cartoon,” Helmer said, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office reports. “There were devils and shadows talking to me everywhere.
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“I knew that I was on a mission to destroy the gas line. I just knew that that’s what I was supposed to do.”
PCP was first given to humans in the 1950s as an anesthetic but stopped after patients became agitated, delusional and irrational, according to the U.S. Justice Department website.
Helmer first came to the attention of Aspen-area law enforcement about 10:41 p.m. Friday after a Basalt police officer clocked him driving 96 mph on State Highway 82 and tried to stop him, according to a Pitkin County Sheriff’s report. Helmer finally stopped in Snowmass Canyon, but put his Ford F350 pickup truck in reverse when the officer got out of his car and rammed into the officer’s vehicle.
“(The Basalt officer) then jumped into his patrol car to avoid being hit by (Helmer),” according to a report from a Pitkin County deputy who spoke with the Basalt officer.
Helmer then continued upvalley on Highway 82 and turned left into the Intercept Lot and headed for the dirt section on the lot’s north side, the report states.
“The vehicle then came to an abrupt stop and the driver was revving the engine as black smoke billowed from the exhaust,” according to a report from Deputy Cameron Daniel. “Seconds later, the vehicle went into motion spinning doughnuts and then again came to a stop.”
Helmer then exited the truck and lay on the ground as instructed and was arrested, the report states. A Snowmass Village police officer then asked him if he was under the influence of drugs.
“I’m sure I am, but I don’t know what,” Helmer replied, according to the report.
“During that moment, I observed that Helmer’s eyes were bulging as he looked at all of the arresting officers,” Daniel wrote in the report.
At that point, Helmer made the statements about being in a cartoon and wanting to destroy a gas line, as well as others.
“I was talking to myself in a Jack Nicholson voice, like Jack Nicholson from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’” Helmer also said, according to the reports. “I was purposely trying to run into people’s cars but they kept swerving out of the way.”
Helmer declined to speak with deputies and said he wanted a lawyer present and then proceeded to talk nonstop for the next two hours “about the night’s events and about his personal life,” Deputy Monique Merritt wrote in her report.
“I reminded him several times that he had invoked his right to an attorney and I could not speak to him about that evening’s events but he just continued to talk anyway,” Merritt wrote in her report.
Another deputy later found a glass pipe and several lighters in Helmer’s truck, but no drugs, according to the reports. Helmer was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, menacing with a deadly weapon, resisting or obstructing law enforcement, DUI, reckless endangerment, vehicular eluding and four traffic offenses.
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.