Huntsville, AL - Medical Assist - Man Pushed Officer To The Ground - Steals Police Cruiser - Puts In Reverse - Officer Has To Jump Out Of The Way - Cruiser Stuck In Ditch - Escaped

August 26, 2016

When Thomas Fletcher ran towards a police cruiser, clutching his neck and yelling, “They choked me,” the officer stepped out of the car to see if she could help.

That’s when Fletcher pushed the officer to the ground, got into the driver’s seat and put the cruiser into drive.

“The officer heard the engine revving very loudly and watched as Fletcher drove the cruiser about 10 metres ahead,” said Crown attorney Doug Kasko at Bracebridge criminal court Aug. 23.

“Then he reversed directly towards her.”

The officer jumped out the way, and the cruiser went into a ditch. She watched Fletcher, who was still in the driver’s seat, banging buttons and flailing his arms around.

She got the driver’s door open, grabbed Fletcher’s arm and pulled him out, but not before he picked up a water bottle inside the cruiser and threw water in her face and the bottle at her head, said Kasko.

Fletcher was arrested and accused of committing a string of other crimes that night, June 2.

Close to 3 a.m. on June 2 in downtown Huntsville, a woman woke up to the sound of a man, who was later identified as Fletcher, yelling. She looked out her window and watched as he ran towards her pickup truck, jumped in and “peeled away,” said Kasko.

Later police would find the truck smashed into a tree.

Fletcher then went to another nearby home, smashed the front door window and ran away when the residents woke up. Shortly after that he encountered the officer and stole the cruiser.

The 26-year-old Huntsville resident remained in pre-trial custody until Aug. 23, when he pleaded guilty to and was sentenced for 13 charges.

“It’s abundantly clear my client was under the influence of something,” said defence lawyer Peter Ward. “He was in trouble and needed help, although what he did was not an effective way of getting it. Officers in their synopsis describe him as being in a manic state.”

“I was trying to ask for help,” said Fletcher in court. “But the (drug) trip I was on made me think people were trying to kill me.”

The Crown didn’t buy Fletcher’s explanation.

“I can’t imagine someone looking for help would behave in such a way,” said Kasko. “He wasn’t looking for help, he was looking to cause havoc and mayhem.”

Fletcher pleaded guilty to stealing two motor vehicles, attempting to break, enter and commit an indictable offence, resisting a peace officer, operating a motor vehicle dangerously, assaulting a peace officer and failing to comply with a probation order.

Judge JD Evans had previously ordered Fletcher to serve probation in June 2015, after facing charges relating to mischief. He violated that order several other times before June 2, 2016.

Once in March and once in May Fletcher went to his father’s house demanding money. Both times his father wouldn’t give him any, so he kicked, punched and damaged his father’s door. For those offences, Fletcher pleaded guilty to two counts of mischief under $5,000 and two counts of fail to comply with probation.
This spring Fletcher also stopped reporting to his probation officer and didn’t pay court-ordered restitution, adding two more counts of fail to comply with probation.

“His family wants no further contact with him,” said Ward. “As a person looking in, that’s quite sad.”

Ward also said Fletcher has a long history of substance abuse.

Fletcher was sentenced to 11 months in custody on top of 108 days of time served.