Richmond County authorities plan to examine the design of its patrol cars after a teenage suspect crawled through a back-seat cage, stole the patrol car and injured a deputy early Wednesday.
Police say 19-year-old Robert Willie Cason III didn't want to go to jail after being arrested during a 2 a.m. traffic stop on Gordon Highway. The handcuffed teen crawled through a window from the back seat to the front and stole the vehicle while Deputy Jason Youngblood was standing outside, according to Maj. Ken Autry.
Mr. Cason - who was wanted on a charge of violating probation - aimed the vehicle for the deputy, hit the officer and broke his right hand, Maj. Autry said. The teen wrecked the vehicle nearby, jumped out and ran.
After eight hours of searching, a tip led police to a house on Sibley Road, where he was arrested.
The deputy was treated at University Hospital and released.
Maj. Autry said officers at internal affairs are reviewing the incident.
"We're looking at the design of the window to see if we need to change the type of cage we have on the vehicle or make some modifications," he said.
Mr. Cason was serving 11 years of probation after pleading guilty last year to groping the breasts of a 12-year-old female relative and threatening her with a knife. In June, a judge issued a warrant for probation violation because he failed to report to a probation officer, attend anger management classes and pay court fines. He also tested positive for marijuana use, court records show.
Wednesday's incident began when Deputy Youngblood saw a red Pontiac Sunfire weaving on Gordon Highway. After he pulled the vehicle over in a gas station parking lot, the officer discovered that Mr. Cason and a second occupant were wanted on outstanding warrants. He arrested them both, placing them into the back of his patrol car, Maj. Autry said.
While Deputy Youngblood was outside the patrol car talking with someone, he saw the teen was crawling through the cage window to the front seat and tried to stop him.
After being hit with the vehicle, Deputy Youngblood fired two shots toward the wheel in an attempt to disable the car, Maj. Autry said. The gunfire hit the car but didn't stop it.
The patrol car finally stopped when it hit a median on Gordon Highway. Police say Mr. Cason escaped and removed his handcuffs off by using a hammer and a screwdriver.
The second suspect, Jerry James Vanord, 42, did not try to escape and was not injured when the patrol car wrecked, Maj. Autry said. Mr. Vanord was being held in the Richmond County jail on a probation violation.
Mr. Cason, of the 3300 block of Gibson Drive, Augusta, was charged with three felony counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, theft by taking and escape. He remained in the Richmond County jail Wednesday without bond.
Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or email@example.com.