A Peoria man is accused of driving off in a police car this morning, after being handcuffed behind his back and placed in the back of the car.
Peoria police spokesman Jay Davies tells New Times that today's events started around 6:30 a.m., as 24-year-old Nicholas Wade Fields allegedly broke into a house and stole a Lexus SUV by driving it through a closed garage door.
While police were out looking for the stolen SUV, cops got a call from a man near the Lexus owner's home saying he was in a physical fight with a man who had broken into his house.
The man, allegedly Fields, ran away, and police eventually found him trying to break into more homes on the next street over, Davies says.
Fields was handcuffed behind his back and placed in the back of a police car -- a car that began rolling away from the scene, sans police officer.
Davies says there was no officer in the vehicle, as police were going through a debriefing outside about the alleged crime spree that had just occurred.
Sure enough, police say it was Fields driving that police car away, as a Peoria police negotiator began to speak with Fields as he went on his ride in the cop car.
Davies says the negotiator was trying to keep Fields calm, and Fields even provided the negotiator with his location a couple times when officers lost sight of the car.
Around 75th Avenue and Thunderbird, in a construction zone with heavy traffic, a police officer maneuvered his car in front of Fields, and Fields was arrested more successfully on that occasion.
Davies says Fields did bump into the police car that cut off his path, but only with what he describes as about "the intensity of a shopping cart" running into a car.
Exactly how Fields managed to go from handcuffed behind his back in the backseat to driving away isn't clear, but there's a theory.
Davies says it's possible Fields, who's "very thin," slipped through the ventilation area dividing the front seat from the back, and managed to get his handcuffed hands to the front of his body by going under his legs.
The back doors to the police car were locked, and nobody saw him get out of the car, so it's not likely Fields went around to the driver's seat, Davies says.
When Fields was arrested after his alleged joyride in the police car, Davies says his hands were still handcuffed, but in front of his body. Davies says handcuffed people don't often manage to get their hands from their backsides to the front of their bodies, but says "it's been known to happen."
Fields was booked into jail on a few charges, including burglary and vehicle theft.