Officer fires shots to stop police car theft

Posted: Friday, November 02, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A police officer fired three shots at his own patrol car early Friday morning after a drunken driving suspect got in and drove away.

The officer's shots flattened two tires but the suspect was able to drive several blocks away.

A short time later police arrested Robert Hernandez, 43. He was charged with eluding, vehicle theft, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, driving while intoxicated and driving with a suspended license.

Hernandez also had been sought on a $10,000 warrant for prison escape after walking away from a halfway house earlier in the week. He was being held at Akeela House on theft charges.

The officer's name was not immediately released.

According to police, just before midnight Thursday, an officer spotted a man driving a car erratically near the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and attempted to pull him over. The car sped away and the officer suspended pursuit.

A short time later, another officer spotted the car and it again sped away. However, the car fishtailed and drove into a ditch.

The driver ran. Officers chased him and apparently engaged in a short tussle with the suspect, police said.

The suspect broke free, doubled back to a running police car, got in and attempted to drive away.

The patrol officer who had left the car running fired three shots at the car from close range, hitting the driver-side front tire, driver-side rear tire and driver-side rear hubcap.

The suspect drove the stolen patrol car with flat tires several blocks and fled on foot again.

Officers arrested Hernandez in the back yard of a home shortly after midnight.

Police say a board of senior officers will conduct an inquiry to determine if the patrol officer violated any department policies.

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