MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A police chase from Southwest Miami-Dade to Miami ended with the arrest of a man who had already been convicted at least once before for fleeing and eluding.
Chopper 4 followed the pursuit of the U-Haul truck amid some dramatic images. For 45 minutes that vehicle was seen weaving in and out of city streets, jumping on and off the Palmetto Expressway and then heading in different directions, heading east and then west along Southwest 8th Street and doing the same thing along Flagler Street.
In one sequence, police officers on foot chased after the U-Haul truck on a Miami street when it appeared that it was coming to a stop. It then suddenly took off, leaving the officers behind.
The U-Haul truck was also seen confusing police with a series of U-turns.
It all ended around 12:45 p.m. after a 45-minute pursuit right next to MiamiSenior High School.
“I saw ten cop cars coming by MiamiSenior High School right here on the corner,” said witness Jorge Soler. Soler told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that “I heard the sirens going on and car after car and then police started yelling at me, go inside, go inside.”
Police say the incident started at Southwest 186th Street and South Dixie Highway.
A BOLO or a be-on-the-lookout bulletin had been issued for the U-Haul truck following a theft from what police described as a “tool shop” at Southwest 181st Street and South Dixie Highway recently.
“There was a uniformed officer who approached the vehicle at Southwest 186th Street and when he came up to the window, the driver took off, striking the officer in the hand,” said Miami-Dade Police spokeswoman Aida Fina-Milian.
The U-Haul truck then took off northbound.
Before the chase ended, an unidentified Miami-Dade Police officer was injured when he was pinned between the U-Haul truck and a police vehicle. He was transported to JacksonMemorialHospital where he was treated for a broken leg.
Another Miami officer cut his hand from broken glass. Police say that happened when officers had to break the glass on the U-Haul truck to get the suspect out of it.
Fina-Milian identified the suspect as 45-year-old Darrell Conyers, who she said has convictions for firearms violations, carjacking and fleeing and eluding. He also has two open warrants for driving with a suspended license.
Charges against him are now pending. It’s not known why he was driving the U-Haul truck or how much damage he may have caused.
No one was seriously injured but neighbor are alarmed.
“I feel amazed,” said neighbor Reiniel Diaz. “This happened right next to the school and someone could have been hurt if that driver went inside the school. Thank God the police acted quickly.”
“It’s really sad,” said Raymelin Diaz, a 9th grader at the high school. “Someone at the school really could have gotten hurt.”
“Obviously when someone has no regard for others like this, this becomes a public safety issue,” said Fina-Milian.
She said it is not know if there is any surveillance tape of the U-Haul truck and its driver from the previous theft at the tool shop. She said police were looking into that.
Dozens of officers, in marked and unmarked vehicles, pursued the driver but were unsuccessful in getting him to stop.
He ran stop signs, red lights and at one point when it appeared officers had him cornered; the driver simply drove over a median and into the wrong lane of traffic in his efforts to evade capture.
When it appeared heavy traffic in an area of heavy construction on the 826 would stop the chase; the driver simply squeezed through vehicles, exited the highway and kept on going.
At another point in the chase, a police cruiser tried to block the road, but the suspect hit the cruiser, pushed it out of the way and drove around it.
The chase lasted for nearly 30 minutes until officers blocked the road at SW 25th Avenue and 8th Street.
Officers were standing in the road with their guns drawn. The driver had nowhere to go but while the truck did finally stopped, the driver had to be pulled forcefully from the window by more than a dozen officers.
One officer could be seen injured on the ground. It’s not known how he was hurt but video showed his leg pinned by a police car and the U-Haul during the takedown.
The officer was taken from the scene via ambulance with a leg injury.
Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera told CBS 4′s Lauren Pastrana the injured officer is a veteran of the force who works in the South end district. His name has not been released.
He said representatives from the PBA were at Jackson Memorial Hospital with the officer.
“I think they’re placing his leg in a cast,” Rivera said. “I don’t know if he’ll be released today or not. But he’ll be fine at the end of the day.”
Rivera said the incident should remind the public just how dangerous all aspects of police work can be.
“The action that he took from the beginning of the sting show his bravery, the commitment to his community, to make sure we keep thieves and violent criminals off the streets,” Rivera said.
Two officers leaving the hospital Friday night said the injured officer was doing fine.