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Stolen Freeport police car hits parked vehicles, cops say

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A Freeport Village police vehicle was stolen just before 11:15 p.m. Thursday, March 10, 2016, and the thief led village police on a chase that ended with a crash in Merrick, Nassau County police said. The suspect was arrested after he struck parked vehicles on Babylon Road near Norman J. Levy Lakeside School, police said. (Credit: Stringer News Service)

A “nimble” Brooklyn man stole a Freeport Village police vehicle Thursday night after being handcuffed in the back seat, then led police on a chase that ended with a crash in Merrick, Nassau County police said.

Andrew L. Howard, 36, of East 32nd Street, who had been driving a minivan, was pulled over and placed in a Freeport police car about 10 p.m., after police learned he had two outstanding warrants for robbery, officials said.

While officers spoke with the vehicle’s other two occupants, Howard, left alone in the patrol car, began contorting his body.

“This is a very nimble and agile individual who was able to take his hands from behind his back, place them down low,” and bring his hands to the front of his body, Nassau Detective Lt. Richard LeBrun said at a news conference Friday at Nassau police headquarters.

Howard, who police say is 5-foot-9 and weighs 155 pounds, then squeezed himself through an 11 1⁄2-by-12 1⁄4 inch space in the police car’s sliding, Plexiglas partition, known to cops as “the cage.”

“It was a very swift, clean maneuver when he went through that partition,” LeBrun said.

With the patrol car’s engine still running, Howard hit the gas about 11:15 p.m., driving north on North Grove Street, police said.

He was arrested after he crashed into several parked vehicles on Babylon Road near Norman J. Levy Lakeside School in Merrick, police said.

Nassau police, who are leading the investigation into the incident, said Howard was driving a 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan on North Grove Street with two female passengers when he was stopped by Freeport Village officers.

The traffic stop was made after the village’s license plate reading system identified the Dodge minivan as having links to an ongoing investigation, officials said.

After being arrested, Howard was taken to a hospital, where he was being treated for an unrelated medical condition, police said. No one else was hurt during the incident.

Howard faces multiple charges including resisting arrest, grand larceny, robbery and reckless endangerment.

The two passengers in the Dodge, sisters Dawnfornee Ellison, 39, and Yasmeen N. Ellison, 41, both of Kingston Avenue in Brooklyn, were charged with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, police said, because a gravity knife was found in the Grand Caravan.

LeBrun said police were investigating whether proper procedures were followed before the patrol car was stolen.

Howard is scheduled to be arraigned on Saturday in First District Court in Hempstead.

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