A suspected-hit-and-run driver was arrested after allegedly taking an innocent man to law enforcement and falsely claiming he was behind the wheel in a violent string of crashes in Santa Ana that left four injured Wednesday, police said.
David Brihn, 41, of Santa Ana faces possible charges of driving under the influence, kidnapping and other crimes, according to Santa Ana Police Department Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
The bizarre series of incidents began just before 3 a.m. when the suspect was involved in a crash at McFadden Avenue and Harbor Boulevard. The driver of a nearby white car in the area witnessed what happened, Bertagna said.
Realizing the white car's driver had witnessed the crash, the suspect – who was behind the wheel of a black car, apparently a Nissan Cube – began chasing the white car, a Honda sedan.
Police described the chase as a road-rage incident.
Nearly 1 1/2 miles after the first crash, both the Nissan and the Honda struck a GMC pickup truck at First and Fairview streets, causing the truck to flip into the air and land about 60 to 80 feet away, Bertagna said.
The driver of the Honda then lost control and slammed into a bicyclist who was waiting at a stop light at the intersection.
Four people – two people inside the Honda, the driver of the pickup truck, and the bicyclist – suffered injuries and were transported to the hospital.
The Honda, the Nissan Cube, the GMC pickup and the bike were totaled and debris was strewn across the intersection. The crash was caught on dramatic surveillance video.
Meanwhile, Brihn exited the Nissan and ran into a nearby ice cream distribution company, where he grabbed Ignacio Morales, an employee from the business, and took him to Santa Ana police officers who were responding to the crash scene, Bertagna said.
Brihn then tried to convince authorities that Morales was the wanted driver, authorities said.
"Here, I caught the driver of that car for you," the suspect told police, according to Bertagna.
The employee did not speak English, the corporal added.
“They wanted to blame me," Morales told KTLA in Spanish. "The truth is, I wasn’t going to pay for something that I wasn’t guilty for."
Police rejected the suspect's claims and then Brihn allegedly began trying to fight officers, according to Bertagna. Officers ultimately used a stun gun to subdue the man and take him into custody.
Bertagna said Brihn used enough force on Morales that he was booked on suspicion of kidnapping, as well as driving under the influence of drugs, felony hit-and-run, and resisting arrest.
Brihn is suspected of using a stimulant, prompting the DUI allegation, police said.
A search of the Orange County Sheriff's Department inmate records did not immediately turn up information on Brihn.
Meanwhile, all four patients who were injured in the incident are in stable condition and expected to survive.
Correction: An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect spelling of the suspect's last name. The story has been updated.