Casper Man Arrested for Hitting Fence, Filing False Report
Casper police on Monday arrested a man who allegedly slid into a fence while driving, then made up a fake story about being the victim of a hit-and-run in order to avoid responsibility for the accident.
Jonathan Thomas Reiser, 20, was booked into jail on recommended charges of filing a false report, no insurance and leaving the scene of an accident. He will likely make his initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Charging papers say a police officer was sent to a home on Shumway Avenue shortly before 8 p.m. Monday for a reported hit-and-run crash. Reiser had called police to report being the victim of a hit-and-run -- which he said had occurred about two hours prior -- and but had been unable to report it immediately because he didn't have a phone.
The officer arrived and saw a silver Nissan SUV with significant damage to the front passenger quarter panel and bumper. Horizontal scratches were noted along the side, and a large piece of the front bumper appeared to have been cut out during the collision.
The officer then spoke with Reiser, who reportedly appeared "shaky" and "was hesitant to make eye contact" with the officer.
Reiser reportedly said he had been westbound on East 21st Street and stopped at the stop sign at the intersection of South Beverly. Reiser claimed another vehicle was approaching the intersection, but Reiser proceeded through the intersection since he had the right of way.
Reiser told the officer that an unknown vehicle hit him, causing him to "freeze." When he looked up, Reiser said, the other vehicle was leaving the area, and he could only see the tail lights.
Reiser said although he was unsure, he believed he was hit by an older-model passenger vehicle. Reiser said he then saw "splinters" and may have collided with a fence as a result of having been hit.
When asked why he didn't report the accident right away, Reiser reportedly said his phone didn't work without a Wi-Fi connection.
The officer only saw damage on the front passenger side of the vehicle, and was unable to locate any damage consistent with the Nissan having been hit, then spinning into a fence.
The officer asked Reiser if he wanted to explain how the accident actually occurred, but Reiser reportedly stuck to his story.
The officer then went to the intersection of 21st and Beverly, where a fence had been severely damaged on the northwest side of the intersection.
Evidence at the scene -- which included several pieces of Reiser's vehicle still lodged in the fence and yard, as well as tire impressions -- indicated that Reiser's vehicle had struck the fence, but there was nothing to substantiate Reiser's story about being hit by another vehicle.
A 15-foot section of the wooden fencing had been completely destroyed, police say. A wooden children's playset in the yard has also been destroyed.
The officer tried without success to contact the homeowner, but did leave a business card so the homeowner could call and give an estimate of the property damage.
Based on the evidence, the affidavit says, "it was obvious that Reiser's vehicle had left the roadway due to icy conditions and crashed through the fence."
The officer returned to Reiser and explained that the accident had not occurred as Reiser described. Reiser, court documents say, persisted with his original claim about a hit-and-run.
The officer asked Reiser how a vehicle could have hit his passenger side, thereby causing Reiser to swerve toward the passenger side. Tire impressions at the scene were very different from the account Reiser gave, the officer explained.
Reiser reportedly replied that he must have "fainted" and could not remember what had happened. The officer asked how Reiser could have told such an intricate story of the accident if he had "fainted" and didn't remember anything.
Reiser then allegedly said he "made it up" because he couldn't remember.
Reiser was arrested and taken to jail.