For this Azle man, a bad day of fishing was decidedly not better than a good day of work.
Clay Allen Latta, 54, was fishing at Eagle Mountain Lake on June 7 when he spotted a game warden, dropped his fishing pole, argued and fled, the start of a four-day manhunt that ended with a dog biting a game warden’s cellphone and Latta landing in jail, authorities said.
Thursday, a Tarrant County grand jury indicted Latta on charges of evading arrest or detention in a motor vehicle, a third-degree felony, which is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Latta had also been ticketed for fishing without a fishing license, failure to allow inspection, failure to produce ID and driving while license was invalid.
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After being arrested June 11, he posted a $5,000 bail and was released June 12 from the Tarrant County Jail.
Latta’s run-in with the law began when Texas Game Warden Cane Shumaker was checking for fishing licenses on Eagle Mountain Lake in northwest Tarrant County.
Shumaker spotted two men fishing from a bank and when they saw his boat, both men dropped their poles. Latta, Shumaker said, acted like he hadn’t been fishing at all.
When Shumaker approached in his boat and asked if they had fishing licenses, Latta started arguing with the game warden.
“He told me I didn’t have the right because he was on a private land,” Shumaker said. “I told him I did because he was fishing on a public body of water. He didn’t agree with me and called me a bunch of names and told me to F-off.”
Shumaker then asked Latta if he had any outstanding warrants.
Latta replied “maybe,” before turning his back and walking toward his pickup truck. He started throwing items in the back of his truck and bent the front license plate so it couldn’t be read, Shumaker said.
The bank was too steep for Shumaker to land his boat so he had to dock on the other side of the cove. When Latta saw Shumaker coming his way, the game warden said Latta ran to the driver’s side of his truck.
“He reached all the way across into the passenger side of the truck,” Shumaker said. “At that point I drew my weapon and I relocated. I started yelling for him to get out of the truck.
“He jumped into his truck, peeling up backwards up this hillside, then turned around and drove off. But he had forgot about the license plate on the back of his truck.”
Shumaker quickly jotted down the license plate number on his hand and radioed for help.
But Latta got away.
After several days of searching, they finally found Latta’s pickup truck at an Azle trailer park.
When they knocked on the door, no one answered.
The game wardens left and parked their vehicles over the hill, then walked back to the trailer, Shumaker said.
They found Latta and another man standing outside.
He might not even have been arrested, to be honest. All of the warrants were for misdemeanors, things like unpaid traffic tickets. He made it a lot worse by running.
Texas Game Warden Cane Shumaker
Latta quickly ran back to the trailer and stood at the doorway as his dog rushed Shumaker and tried to bite his leg.
Instead, the dog bit into Shumaker’s pants pocket and chomped on the game warden’s cellphone. The dog tried to attack Shumaker’s partner, too. They used pepper spray to get the mixed-breed canine to back off.
Latta finally surrendered but Shumaker said he would have faced a far less serious situation if he had cooperated back at the lake.
“He might not even have been arrested, to be honest,” Shumaker said. “All of the warrants were for misdemeanors, things like unpaid traffic tickets. He made it a lot worse by running.”
His fishing buddy got a warning, Shumaker said.