This story was updated Jan. 3, 2019, at 6:38 p.m. with more information.
A man allegedly pepper-sprayed a Chattanooga police officer after being caught breaking into a vehicle at an apartment complex not far from the downtown police precinct on New Year's Day, according to records.
Justin Conner, 32, was spotted trying to break into a silver Jeep Wrangler in a parking area near the Douglas Heights apartments at 930 Douglas St. at around midnight on Tuesday, according to court documents. That's about two blocks away from the downtown Chattanooga police station.
The person who saw Conner called police, and when officers arrived, they saw him trying to walk away from the driver's side of the Jeep while carrying a green backpack and a jacket, court records show.
A police officer met Conner at the hood of the vehicle, but Conner continued to walk away.
The officer told Conner to drop what he was carrying and to put his hands on the hood of the patrol car, and Conner still did not comply, court records state.
At that point, the officer pushed Conner toward the hood of the patrol car, court records show. That is when Conner pushed back and reached over his shoulder, grabbed a pepper spray container and sprayed the officer in the face, authorities said.
Conner broke free and continued to spray the officer as he walked around to the other side of the patrol car.
After unsuccessfully trying to grab Conner, the officer deployed his stun gun. Conner fell forward to the ground and hit his head, according to court documents.
Conner was taken to a local hospital for his head injury and then to the Hamilton County Jail.
During the investigation, police found Conner had a vaping pen with THC oil in it belonging to the Jeep owner, as well as an ignition switch, court records state. Investigators also found the column inside the Jeep was cut, and wires were exposed and cut.
The stolen items were returned to the vehicle owner, according to court documents.
Conner was charged with two counts of theft of property over $1,000, burglary, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, vandalism and possession of a controlled substance. His bond was set at $2,500.
Conner has an extensive arrest history in Hamilton County dating back to 2005, according to online court records. Several of those charges are for DUI, evading arrest and at least one other assault on police.
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