WESTLAKE — A Westlake police cruiser stolen by a Cleveland man during a traffic stop on Interstate 90 early Saturday was recovered in Avon just minutes later, albeit with a flat tire and a coat of mud.
The alleged car thief — Frankie Molina, 33 — was arrested not far from the abandoned cruiser shortly after it was discovered by
Avon police in a field off state Route 83, Westlake police Capt. Guy Turner said.
|COURTESY WESTLAKE POLICE|
|This police cruiser was allegedly taken by a Cleveland man and recovered with a flat tire in an Avon field.|
Molina faces criminal charges for grand theft auto, disrupting public service, vandalism and felony fleeing, as well as traffic offenses that include DUI and driving under suspension.
Molina and a 15-year-old female passenger in his car were headed west on Interstate 90 when at 1:23 a.m. a Westlake police officer tried to pull the car over for speeding, Turner said.
Molina failed to stop and continued speeding away from the officer, eventually crashing the vehicle into a ditch just off state Route 83, Turner said.
When the officer approached Molina’s vehicle, Molina and the girl fled on foot. The officer — whose name has yet to be released — caught up with the girl; she resisted arrest, which gave Molina time to circle back and steal the police cruiser, Turner said.
About four minutes later, Avon police located the Westlake police cruiser in a field near state Route 83 and Main Street in Avon, Turner said.
Officers from police departments in Westlake, Avon, Avon Lake, North Ridgeville, Rocky River and Ohio Highway Patrol troopers responded as well. Molina was caught about 20 minutes later, and resisted arrest — he was stunned with a Taser by one officer and bitten by another officer’s K-9 unit before being taken into custody, Turner said.
The officers involved are still finishing their reports on the incident, so it was unknown as of late Saturday which police officer stunned the man and which K-9 bit him, Turner said.
After his arrest, Molina initially told police he was a 17-year-old Cleveland boy, and the 15-year-old girl who was arrested with him tried to perpetuate that lie, Turner said, though police later confirmed his real identity.
The girl was charged with disorderly conduct persisting, underage consumption of alcohol, resisting arrest, curfew violation and obstruction official business. She was released to her parents early Saturday, Turner said.
Molina, however, was taken to Lakewood Hospital to be treated for his dog bite and was later taken to Westlake city jail after his release from the hospital. There was no video camera mounted on the dashboard of the police cruiser, so footage of the cruiser’s theft was not caught on video, Turner said. None of the officers involved was injured, and the police cruiser was towed away from the scene because it has a flat tire.
Contact Shawn Foucher at 653-6255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.