FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A Pembroke Pines police officer who was dragged by a car that reached speeds of 60 mph was afraid of what would happen if he let go.
With his arms and legs bandaged, Officer Jon Cusack, a 19-year veteran, smiled and give a “thumbs up” as he was taken from the hospital in a wheelchair to a waiting vehicle. Cusack got out of the wheelchair and walked to the vehicle and when he was asked by CBS4’s Peter D’Oench how he was doing, he said, “I am doing well.”
Police spokesman and captain Al Xiques said Cusack would need to take some time off before returning to work on road patrol.
“The officer is in good spirits after surviving this incident and is glad to go home with his family,” said Xiques, who smiled when he asked about the applause that Cusack received at the hospital from friends and family and supporters and police. Cusack went home with a motorcycle police escort.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to see people and police and family come together at this time of need,” said Xiques. “Officer Cusack is a hero. He tried to save someone’s life and in the process almost lost his own.”
“He was clinging on to the car because he was in fear for his life,” said Xiques. “Fortunately he survived which is a testament to his training and experience and his knowledge as a police officer and As A training officer.”
Jeff Marano, The President of the Broward Police Benevolent Association which represents Pembroke Pines police, told D’Oench, “It is unbelievable that he is alive today and that he survived because his injuries could have been a lot more severe.”
“He was just in fear for his life,” said Marano. “All he could think of was getting home to see his family. I am concerned because attacks on law enforcement are unprecedented and scary for people who are just trying to go to work. Just think of what happened yesterday. He probably thought it was going to be a normal day at work and then he was pulled right out of his boots and his clothing was left on the highway.”
Tuesday morning Officer Cusack was sent to check out a report of a drug overdose at Century Village on Pines Boulevard.
When he arrived, he found two people unconscious inside a car along with drug paraphernalia.
Video from Cusack’s body cam shows him opening the driver’s side door and waking the man in the driver’s seat. The driver, identified as Thomas Cabrera, put the car in gear. When Cusack reached in to try and stop him Cabrera accelerated, dragging the officer along.
“The officer was concerned that if he let go he was gonna be run over by the back tires as well as the injuries he would suffer would be more severe,” said police Captain Al Xiques.
Cabrera reportedly tried to ram several objects to knock Cusack off the car. Cusack hung on until Cabrera slowed just enough to where he felt it would be safe to let go.
Cabrera fled north on I-75 and then east on I-595, weaving in and out of traffic as an increasing number of police officers, from several agencies, closed in on him. Just west of I-95 police boxed him in and took him into custody. They also detained his female passenger. She was not charged.
Police said his car reached speeds of up to 105 miles per hour.
Cabrera has been charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and fleeing/eluding a law enforcement officer.
Cusack was taken to the hospital where he was treated for road rash and several other injuries, none were life-threatening. He was released on Wednesday.
Court and prison records show that Cabrera was in prison a few years ago for grand theft. Pembroke Pines police said Cabrera admitted to doing cocaine and heroin before Officer Cusack arrived. He also reportedly admitted trying to flee with the officer on the car. The reason Cabrera said he did it, according to police, was because he didn’t want to go to jail.
Cabrera was going to have a court appearance on Wednesday but it was delayed.