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Wasilla suspect picks fight with Trooper K9 Blazer, goes to hospital before jail

Casey Grove

If the Alaska State Troopers' K9 Blazer was hurt in the early-morning pursuit Thursday of a drugged and reckless Wasilla driver, who punched the Belgian Malinois in the head several times, the dog did not show it, troopers said.

Blazer, not quite 2 years old, did not miss any duty after going in the window of a Ford Focus driven by Steven W. Stewart and forcing Stewart, 42, into submission while the man wrapped his legs around the dog and punched, according to troopers.

Stewart faces his sixth impaired driving charge as well as charges of evidence tampering, reckless driving, giving false information, driving with a revoked license and harming a police dog.

According to Trooper Daron Cooper's affidavit filed with the charges, it started when a clerk at Valley Country Store at Church and Seldon roads called about 4:20 a.m. Thursday to report a man hanging around that the clerk had told to leave.

Cooper arrived to find Stewart asleep, with one leg up on the steering wheel and cup of coffee spilled in his lap, the trooper wrote. Cooper knocked on the window to wake Stewart, who was agitated and had watery, bloodshot eyes. He gave the trooper a fake name.

Stewart finally revealed his real name and said he had a warrant. The trooper said they would get his mother to pick up the car and asked about what looked like a "drug kit" in the car, Cooper wrote.

That's when Stewart jumped in the car and sped off on Church Road toward the Parks Highway, hitting 70 mph at one point, Cooper wrote. Later, the car was going about 20 mph when it swerved in front of a trooper vehicle headed the opposite direction.

Driving a little slower, but still in the oncoming lane, Stewart started tossing things out, including gloves, donuts and a "loaded" syringe, Cooper wrote.

The pursuit continued to Lucille Street, where other traffic had to yield to avoid the Ford Focus. At Seldon and Wards Way, Stewart stopped the car.

"The subject refused to exit the vehicle and a passenger-side window was eventually broken out of the vehicle and AST K9 Blazer was eventually deployed, apprehending Stewart," Cooper wrote. 

It was now about 5:10 a.m. Stewart swayed, staggered and held onto a patrol car to stay upright, Cooper wrote. Stewart did not smell like alcohol, but he refused to perform field sobriety tests and had fresh track marks on one arm, the trooper wrote. He later appeared to be "on the nod," Cooper wrote, using a term to describe someone having difficulty staying awake after using drugs.

Stewart already had five previous convictions for driving impaired or drunk, Cooper wrote in the charges. His license is revoked until 2070. Stewart remained jailed in Palmer on Tuesday, court records showed. Before Stewart went to jail, though, troopers and medics took him to a hospital to get treatment for the injuries Blazer inflicted, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

The dog was fine, Peters said.

"His trooper looked him over really well after the incident, and nothing seemed amiss," Peters wrote in an email. "He didn't require any medical assistance."

Blazer has been on patrol out of the troopers' Mat-Su West Post since April.

Contact Casey Grove at casey(at)alaskadispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter @kcgrove