A driver pulled over for a traffic violation sped off as the officer reached in to take the keys Monday night, but the suspect eluded capture after crashing and bailing out, Riverhead police said.
Officer Chris Burns had stopped the driver’s Ford Fusion just before 8 p.m. by the Route 24 traffic circle in Riverside and discovered there was a county warrant for him, police said.
“That person decided he wasn’t going to stay pulled over,” said Riverhead Sgt. Brian Gleason. “The officer tried to reach into the car to turn the key off and he took off with the car, so the officer had to pull his arm out.”
Burns, who was not injured, jumped back into his vehicle to pursue the Ford southeast on Route 24 but lost sight of the motorist, police said.
Shortly afterward, State Police saw the suspect’s vehicle crashed against the fence of a Brown Street home by Old Quogue Road but the driver was gone, Gleason said.
Authorities cordoned off the area and searched with the help of Suffolk police helicopter and State Police dogs but called off the hunt less than an hour later.
“We know who the person is because that officer has had prior dealings with him,” Gleason said. “He’s been arrested for narcotics in the past and he’s been known to carry a gun.”
The Ford was impounded, and charges are expected to be filed against the driver, including unlawful fleeing a police officer and second-degree reckless endangerment, police said.
Authorities ask anyone with information to call police at 631-727-4500.