BARSTOW, Calif. (AP) — A former Nevada assemblyman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges stemming from a freeway chase that police in California said ended with a violent struggle hours after he was ousted from office for bizarre behavior.
Steven Brooks, 41, entered the plea during a video-conference arraignment in San Bernardino County Superior Court to four counts that include resisting an officer, felony evading and assault on a police animal. A preliminary hearing was set for April 9.
If convicted of all the counts, Brooks could face a maximum sentence of five years, four months in prison.
Last week, Brooks became the first person in Nevada history to be voted out of office by his colleagues in the Legislature after they cited concerns for their safety and a bizarre series of public incidents.
Brooks was arrested Thursday near the California city of Victorville after police say he attacked a police dog with a wrench and had a struggle with officers.
The chase followed a call from a tow truck driver who argued with a motorist about the cost of fixing a flat tire on a freeway shoulder in Barstow.
It was the third time Brooks has been arrested this year, and it came just hours after his colleagues deemed the Democrat from North Las Vegas to be too dangerous to serve out his term.
Brooks was first arrested on Jan. 19 for investigation of threatening other legislators, including Assembly Democratic Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick. Police said a search turned up a gun and ammunition in his car. He has not been charged in that case.
He was arrested again on Feb. 10 — less than a week after being sworn into office — following a domestic dispute at the home of his estranged wife, where he allegedly tried to grab an officer's gun. Brooks faces a court hearing in May in Las Vegas on one felony and three lesser charges.
At Tuesday's hearing, Brooks appeared downtrodden and had a small bandage on his cheek and some bruising under his eye, according to the Barstow Desert Dispatch (http://bit.ly/XbXd6d ).
He asked that his $100,000 bail be reduced so his family could enter him into psychiatric care. However, Judge John Gibson advised Brooks that the request could potentially be incriminating because it would require him to answer questions about the case.
Brooks was appointed a deputy public defender.
In Nevada, Clark County commissioners declined to appoint a replacement for Brooks' legislative seat at their meeting on Tuesday.
They plan to accept applications for the post through April 9, with a decision possible at their April 16 meeting.