Dangerous police chase on Gulf Fwy

February 16, 2009 8:56:31 PM PST
A driver who was running from police ended up literally pushing them out of the way a total of three times. And now, we're learning more about the driver, and two law officers who were hurt trying to apprehend him. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The driver rear-ended a Houston police patrol car on the Gulf Freeway, sending the cruiser into a retaining wall. Just up the road, the driver tried to do the same thing. He rear-ended a Harris County Precinct 8 deputy constable, but that is how the chase came to an end. Both law enforcement officers were taken to the hospital.

The chase covered roughly 15 miles from next to NASA into southeast Houston. From beginning to end, this was not your usual chase. The suspect, identified as Danny Joe Flores, 25, left three damaged police cars, one injured deputy constable and thousands of frustrated drivers in his wake. It ended dramatically with a crash northbound on I-45 at the Howard/Bellfort exit and also began with one.

"He said the guy hit him and it all started," said witness Tony Penzi.

It was around 4pm Monday when Houston police an dPrecinct 8 deputy constables responded to a domestic violence call at an apartment complex on Gemini near Feathercraft in Clear Lake. As the officers were checking the victim, police say the Flores took off, hitting his first patrol car of the day.

"He hit the side of the car and it pushed the police car up onto the curb," said Penzi.

The chase eventually got to the freeway. Soon came police car collision number 2. Police say Flores rear-ended an HPD cruiser, flipping it over.

Sgt. Greg Coujntie with the Houston Police Department was in the thick of the chase.

"At one point when I pulled up next to him, he was looking at me like he was going to try to run me off the road, so I backed off a little bit," he said. "That was right after he had already run the other HPD officer off the road."

As the pursuit continued northward, Flores bumped police car number three - a Precinct 8 vehicle. Flores' car lost control and hit the wall, but the fight wasn't over. Police say he came out swinging with a box cutter and sliced a deputy constable's arm.

Up close, his car was a mess. Police didn't find any guns, but they did find ammunition in the back seat. His daring run was over.

"He didn't want to go to jail," said Sgt. Coujntie. "He's going to jail for a long time, I hope."

Flores has now been charged with two counts of attempted capital murder of a police officer. He injured his head in the last crash and was taken to the hospital. We're told he'll been taken to the Harris County Jail.

The deputy constable who was cut, Wayne Garish, got a few stitches and has been released.

HPD officer walks away from flipped car

Four-year HPD veteran Stephen McGee with the Clear Lake substation was driving in front of the suspect. He happened to be on I-45 when his supervisor radioed that a chase was behind him.

When he saw the already damaged silver Honda approach, HPD tells us he used a defensive maneuver called a rolling roadblock and it played out before hundreds of eyewitnesses.

"Just clipped the police car and the cruiser hit the wall and flipped up on its side and slid down," said witness Daniel Snyder.

"He skidded under 200 feet," reported Lt. Javier Calvillo with the Houston Police Department.

Despite McGee smashing head-on into a concrete barrier and sliding on the driver's door, he climbed out of his overturned cruiser quickly.

"By the time I stopped and got out of the car, I expected to see him still in the car," said Snyder. "He was already up and out and on the side of the road."

While McGee's patrol car was up-righted and towed away, he was transported to the hospital for minor injuries. He was treated for abrasions to his shoulder and legs and discharged around 8pm.

As for the rolling roadblock, we checked HPD's chase policy and what Officer McGee did was right in line with that policy.

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