Denver Police identify tractor driver who led cops on a chase downtown

A stolen tractor and ensuing police chase came to an end on 15th Street downtown between Blake and Market Streets, July 20, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A stolen tractor and ensuing police chase came to an end on 15th Street downtown between Blake and Market Streets, July 20, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Denver Police identified Thomas Busch, 37, as the man who led police on a slow-speed chase driving a tractor through the city on Friday night.

The incident prompted a social media frenzy and led to curious onlookers trying to catch a glimpse of police chasing a tractor downtown. Police said in a release on Monday that Busch is being held for investigation of theft of motor vehicle, first-degree assault and vehicular eluding. Denver Police detectives are also investigating additional incidents they believe may be related to Busch’s actions on Friday, according to the release. The incident remains under investigation by Denver Police.

The chase ended after a Denver police officer crashed his police cruiser head-on with the tractor.

According to a probable cause statement released Monday, police first learned about the tractor when they received a dispatch call at 8:28 p.m. on Friday about a hit-and-run involving a green John Deere tractor on East 11th Avenue and North Colorado Boulevard. Police said Busch stole the tractor from Denver Water; the tractor was registered to its address at 1600 West 12th Avenue.

After allegedly stealing the vehicle, police said, Busch was involved in a hit-and-run with a car near East 11th Avenue. He was observed by 911 callers, who said they saw him crashing into a fence and driving onto a construction site. The probable cause statement said officers tried making contact with Busch at City Park while he allegedly drove through grass and sidewalks.

“Officers activated their overhead lights in an effort to initiate a traffic stop of the defendant,” the statement reads. Busch allegedly continued eluding cops by failing to stop and driving “in a reckless manner, damaging private property, and forcing pedestrians to flee,” while driving on sidewalks.

Things escalated when the tractor got to downtown Denver. Police said Busch drove the tractor the wrong way, into traffic and “through pedestrians” during streets busy with Friday night crowds. It’s there that police made the decision to stop the tractor by purposefully crashing into it, which led to an officer being injured.

Officers used two stun guns to try to apprehend Busch after the crash, but witnesses on the scene said he remained combative and had to be physically restrained by several officers. The probable cause statement backs this up, with police adding that the two stuns guns were “not effective in subduing Busch.” Officers used a police dog to help detain him.

The statement said an officer was bitten while he tried to get handcuffs on Busch. Denver Police lsaid the officer was bitten by the police dog.

Busch was transported from the scene with minor injuries after being handcuffed; two other officers also sustained minor injuries. Denver Police’s media relations department said the injuries were non-life-threatening.

It wasn’t immediately clear if drugs or alcohol were involved in the incident.