Man dies in crash after taking patrol car
|CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) _ A suspect who commandeered the patrol car of a Hamilton County sheriff's deputy was shot at by the officer and found dead after crashing the vehicle into a tree. |
The cause of Glenn Ellis Smith Jr.'s death was unclear Monday. Results of an autopsy to determine whether he was killed by a bullet or from the crash were expected as late as Wednesday, Sheriff John Cupp said.
Smith, 26, was arrested at a fast food restaurant at about midnight Saturday for making harassing phone calls to his mother-in-law. Officer Marty Dunn placed Smith in the back of the patrol car, which did not have a screen separating the front and back seats, Cupp said.
Dunn then left the vehicle running while he spoke with a tow truck driver and Smith maneuvered into the car's front seat, where he attempted to run over the officer. Cupp did not know if Smith had been handcuffed, which is standard procedure.
An undetermined number of shots were fired at the moving car by Dunn before the vehicle jumped the curb and crashed into a tree.
Cupp is investigating why Dunn was driving a patrol car without a partition to separate officers from suspects.
"It is very unusual to have a car with no screen," he said.
He said 50 percent of Sheriff's Department vehicles, but "most" patrol cars, have separation panels.
Dunn _ a six-year veteran of the department who has worked as a patrolman for more than three years _ was not suspended. Instead, he was placed on administrative leave for three to five days for his own protection, Cupp said.