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Foley's Friend a Wanted Woman

Gaut, who drove toward police officer, had failed to appear in court for 2004 felony charges.

September 08, 2006|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

The woman who prosecutors say drove aggressively toward an off-duty Coronado police officer before the officer shot San Diego Chargers linebacker Steve Foley was wanted by Solano County law enforcement authorities on a fugitive warrant.

Lisa Maree Gaut, 25, was facing a September 2004 preliminary hearing on four felony counts when she failed to appear in a Vallejo courtroom, drawing a $25,000 bench warrant for her arrest, a Solano County Superior Court official said Thursday. Gaut faces felony counts of stealing a vehicle, possessing a stolen vehicle, possessing stolen property and fraud, the court official said.

Gaut pleaded not guilty Thursday in San Diego County Superior Court to charges of assault on a peace officer, assault with a deadly weapon and driving under the influence. Her next court hearing is Tuesday.

Foley, 30, facing a possible misdemeanor driving under the influence count as he remains hospitalized, refused to be interviewed about the incident by San Diego County sheriff's detectives on Wednesday, sheriff's spokesman Capt. Glenn Ravel said.

Gaut's attorney said his client has been a friend of Foley's "for months, at least." Law enforcement authorities say it's uncertain if her flight from the Solano County legal proceedings increased the tension of Sunday's incident, the spokesman said.

"It's mildly interesting, but it may not explain their behaviors," Ravel said.

Foley was seen driving his Oldsmobile erratically when he was pursued early Sunday by off-duty officer Aaron Mansker, 23, sheriff's officials said. Sheriff's officials said Foley eventually exited the vehicle and walked toward the officer, with prosecutors charging that Gaut went behind the wheel and drove the car toward the off-duty officer. The officer fired his weapon twice at the car, but did not strike Gaut, sheriff's officials said.

"She did not know he was an officer, and neither did Foley," Gaut's attorney, Ray Vecchio, said Thursday. "He never showed his badge."

Mansker told investigators that Foley lifted his shirt and reached toward his waist before the officer chose to open fire at the unarmed player. In the 3:41 a.m. shooting, Foley was struck three times -- in the hand and two thigh areas -- by the recent Palomar College campus police officer.

"[Gaut] has nothing to be ashamed of," Vecchio said. "She acted heroically. She drove in the direction of Mr. Foley to gather him up after he had been shot."

The Chargers put starting linebacker Foley on their non-football injured reserve list, and he will forfeit his estimated $1.65-million salary, the team said.

"There are two separate issues we are investigating: the behavior of the vehicle with Foley and Gaut driving, and the review of [Mansker's] shooting," Ravel said.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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