GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A few puffs of smoke and it was all over.

Kent County sheriff’s deputies had prepared for what they thought might turn into a high-risk stop Tuesday. They were right, and they had the right gear to stop the suspect without using deadly force, including a pepper gun.

“This has a very limited window of use. But it’s a very great tool if you have that exact circumstance present itself,” Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said as she demonstrated the less-than-lethal device that shoots gumball-sized projectiles.

The suspect, who has a long list of run-ins with the law ranging from carry a concealed weapon to felony firearms to home invasion, was wanted on a felony warrant when he sped away from deputies during a traffic stop at Clancy Avenue and Cedar Street in Grand Rapids late Tuesday morning. His wild driving caused deputies to call off the chase. But it wouldn’t take long to catch up with him after he side-swiped one vehicle and crashed into an ambulance at Leonard Street NW and Scribner Avenue, injuring a paramedic.

Knowing the suspect’s potential to be dangerous, deputies had prepared for both lethal and nonlethal confrontations.

“They had a number of pieces of equipment with them to make sure that they had a full array of opportunities to end that scenario in a way that was safe for not only them, but the subject and anyone else who may be around,” LaJoye-Young said.

As he tried driving away from the crash scene, deputies surrounded the vehicle and used the pepper gun to fire into the car, breaking the window and hitting the suspect.

Video recorded by witnesses shows other deputies taking up backup positions, some drawing firearms in case the suspect became a more violent threat.

Moments later, the suspect crawled out the passenger’s side of the car, sore but alive.

Deputies use a variety of nonlethal devices depending on the situation they’re going into.

“In all circumstances, we train our officers to use the least amount of force necessary to stop the individual from being a threat to the community and to the officers,” the sheriff said.

But the option of using less lethal force is just that — an option. Which helps explain why deputies don’t use less-than-lethal equipment as a first resort all of the time. An officer walking up on a traffic stop or answering a robbery call may not have the equipment or the knowledge of a team of officers who’ve been able to prepare for a felony arrest, like the one that happened Tuesday.

“The opportunity to get that wrong and misguess that you can safely use a Taser might be the last opportunity you had to do something to stop the threat,” LaJoye-Young said.

The equipment is a tool. Critical thinking on the part of the officer makes it work.

“To say what’s the best approach, given the safety of myself, the safety of the people surrounding the individual we’re trying to take into custody, and obviously the safety of the person we’re trying to take into custody,” LaJoye-Young said.