Man charged in assault on police officer Lawman was dragged behind car for about 60 feet

Victim treated, released

,,Suspect arrested in Howard on drug charges

August 28, 1996|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

A man wanted in Anne Arundel County on charges of dragging a police officer behind his car for 60 feet, then leading police on a high-speed chase through Severn Monday was arrested in Howard County early yesterday on drug charges, police said.

Melvin Avon Thomas, 34, of no fixed address, was charged with possession of crack cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia after a raid on a house in North Laurel. He also was served with a federal warrant on firearms charges.

Meanwhile, Anne Arundel authorities delivered a warrant to Howard County charging Thomas with assault with intent to murder, assault, battery, resisting arrest, fleeing and eluding, driving with a revoked license and other traffic charges.

Steven Torbeck, the officer who was dragged behind the car, was treated at North Arundel Hospital and released.

Anne Arundel police said Torbeck was patrolling Meade Village in an unmarked car shortly after 7 p.m. Monday when he spotted a 1988 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that he recognized as belonging to a man wanted on federal handgun charges.

Torbeck followed the car out of Meade Village and through the Severn Hills neighborhood until it turned onto Green Meadow Court near Carriage Drive -- a dead end.

Torbeck, believing he had the man cornered, blocked the Oldsmobile in the cul-de-sac and walked to the driver's side. He recognized the driver as the federal suspect and reached into the car, grabbing the man's arm to keep him from leaving, police said.

The driver tried to pull around Torbeck's police cruiser. Torbeck, whose backup officer was just around the corner, hung onto the window and sprayed the man with pepper spray. The driver pulled around the police car and accelerated, dragging Torbeck 60 to 75 feet.

The car jumped a curb, throwing Torbeck to the ground. The man drove through the front and back lawns of townhouses to escape before turning onto Old Georgetown Court.

There, other officers joined the chase, which led through through the Lake Village and Provinces communities before the driver sped along Severn Road, Ridge Road, Annapolis Road and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, where he reached speeds up to mph and passed other motorists on the left and right shoulders of the road, police said.

During the chase, one of the officers saw someone looking through the rear window from the back seat. Torbeck told his supervisor he had seen a boy about 6 years old in the car.

Sgt. Roland Haag called off the chase for the child's safety, and the Oldsmobile was last seen eastbound on Route 197 near Powder Mill Road heading into Prince George's County.

Anne Arundel police thought they had lost their suspect until early yesterday, when Howard police called to say they had picked him up in a a raid on a house in the 9400 block of Canturbury Riding in North Laurel about 7 a.m.

The raid ended an investigation sparked by neighbors' complaints about drug activity at the house. Howard police seized a small amount of what later tested positive for crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia and arrested Andre Brendan Flaherty, 36, of Silver Spring, Sylvia Melissa Arawole, 32, of Laurel and Thomas with possession of crack cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Pub Date: 8/28/96

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