A routine attempt to pull a car over in Baltimore County yesterday morning turned into a bizarre televised police chase across suburban Maryland, into the District and back into Prince George's County.
The chase lasted an hour and 10 minutes and ended in Prince George's with the fleeing car hitting two Maryland State Police vehicles, a pickup truck and a light pole before traveling onto a sidewalk and coming to a stop.
The hood of the car was crumpled and had been pushed open, obscuring the windshield. The car was belching steam from the radiator and sparks from the undercarriage.
Police with their guns drawn surrounded the driver as he stepped out of the vehicle, while a traffic helicopter that had tracked the chase from the Baltimore area continued to shoot video that was broadcast live on area television stations. The officers slammed the driver against the side of his car and took him into custody.
Maryland State Police Sgt. Russell Newell said officers were able to contain the speed of the chase primarily because the driver stayed at or slightly above the speed limit.
"They were doing what they could to keep it a low-speed pursuit, but in fact he just wasn't driving very fast," Newell said.
Police said the chase began about 5:20 a.m. when Baltimore County police spotted the driver, Terrence A. Brooks, in a silver Chrysler on the Baltimore Beltway. Officers attempted to stop Brooks, 30, because they believed the license plates on the Chrysler had been stolen, police said. But Brooks, of Mitchellville, continued driving as police, lights flashing, chased him.
Baltimore County police pursued the vehicle south to the Capital Beltway, then abandoned the chase. By then, other agencies -- Maryland State Police, U.S. Park Police and Prince George's County police among them -- were following the car.
A Baltimore-based traffic helicopter tracked the chase. Live video showed a string of police cars following the sedan in the predawn darkness. At times, the fleeing car wove in and out of the shoulder lanes to pass early-morning commuters.
The car drove through Howard and Prince George's counties and the District. As the clock ticked toward 6:30 a.m., the car wove on and off the Capital Beltway. It hit the two state police vehicles and a pickup truck on the Beltway.
The car then left the Beltway and drove onto Central Avenue, where it swerved onto sidewalks to avoid rush-hour backups at red lights. In the 6400 block of Central Avenue near Addison Road, it hit a light pole and came to a stop.
Brooks, who was driving on a suspended license, was charged with two counts of felony first-degree assault, fleeing and eluding police, malicious destruction of property and reckless driving and may face additional traffic charges, Newell said.
Newell said the license plates on the Chrysler did not match the car's registration.