A resident of a South Florida retirement community Tuesday morning said he noticed a man and a woman sitting in a parked car on the street, appearing to be either asleep or unconscious, police said in a news release. The people inside were not responsive.
So the resident called Pembroke Pines police. A few moments later, officer Jon Cusack arrived at the scene and reached inside the partially open window to unlock the door, police said.
As soon as he did, the driver — 38-year-old Thomas Cabrera — woke up and gunned the engine, nearly hitting an ambulance and dragging Cusack, who clung to the car to avoid being run over, for more than half a mile at more than 60 mph, police said.
Surveillance video released by police shows that as the vehicle approached the community’s gate, Cusack fell to the pavement and rolled out of the path of oncoming traffic.
Police allege that Cabrera purposely attempted to crash into a Pembroke Pines Fire-Rescue ambulance that had been responding to the initial overdose call to dislodge Cusack. The ambulance driver avoided the crash.
A backup officer and rescue workers rushed to treat Cusack, who was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., with serious injuries, police said. As of Wednesday afternoon, Cusack is in “good spirits” and recovering from surgery, police said in a Facebook post. Police expect him to be released soon.
Cabrera is charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, fleeing and eluding, driving with a suspended license and reckless driving, according to his arrest report.
After Cusack let go of the car, Cabrera led police on a nearly 20-mile chase, reaching 105 mph, and at several points drove along the shoulder of the highway, according to Cabrera’s arrest report. Cabrera eventually became trapped in rush-hour traffic, and police took him and his fiancée into custody.
Cabrera told police he and his fiancee were using heroin and cocaine before Cusack arrived to his parked car, and that the drugs were still in the vehicle, according to the report. He admitted he tried to pry Cusack’s fingers from the frame of the car door before dragging him.
Cabrera’s fiancee, who has not been arrested or charged, told police she believed Cabrera took a hit of heroin while officers pursued him, according to the arrest report. Drug-related items like syringes were found in plain view on the driver’s seat.
Cabrera, who lives in the retirement community, is being held in a Broward County jail.
Cusack has worked for the Pembroke Pines police department for 19 years and is currently assigned to the road patrol as a field training officer and member of the crisis response team, police said in a Facebook post.