Handcuffed suspect steals, wrecks deputy's car

April 7, 2011 2:55:23 AM PDT
A theft suspect's attempt to get away from deputies in northeast Harris County put an entire block of people at risk. He was in handcuffs when he stole a deputy constable's car and drove through 15 backyards.

It began Wednesday evening on Mossy Timbers Drive near Timber Forest Drive in Atascocita and ended with some major damage and the cruiser in a ditch.

"Heard a boom, we thought it was a shotgun ... like shot at first," eyewitness Michael East said.

Atascocita residents didn't know what to think when they saw a Pct. 4 cruiser crashing through a dozen fences then wind up in a ditch. SkyEye HD found lots of damage to several properties.

"I was in the kitchen fixing me something to eat and I heard a loud rev, like of a motor, and then I heard a bang and then I seen a charger a police car flyin' through here," eyewitness Marcus Lafayette said.

"The guy was coming through, coming through the fences and as he came out he came out like right here, came out the car and he just let it ride and he ran over there," East said.

Deputy constables identified the suspect as 41-year-old Robert Paul Cantrell. Officers caught him running nearby and threw him back into a patrol car.

Investigators say it all started when a deputy arrested Cantrell for driving a stolen car. The deputy cuffed Cantrell, put him in the back of his cruiser, put a seatbelt on him them and went to go check out the stolen car.

"Observed the suspect jumping over the seat, getting behind the wheel and puttin' the vehicle in reverse and backing away as the officer was yelling stop police, stop police," Harris Co Precinct 4 Constable's Office Capt. Wally Wieghat said.

We found holes in 12 fences and deputes say Cantrell drove through 15 yards.

One homeowner said he and his family had just left their yard minutes before the cruiser came crashing through their fence.

"Prior to that, our kids were playing soccer in the backyard so had we not left when we did, they probably would have been playing right here," homeowner Matt Perry said.

Somehow, no one was hurt during that entire ordeal.

Cantrell has an extensive criminal history. He has convictions for five auto thefts, five drug cases, two assaults, one for DWI and several misdemeanors.

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