Fayette County woman accused of stealing, wrecking Monessen police cruiser

Paul Peirce, Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa.
·2 min read

Apr. 13—A Fayette County woman is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison after being charged with stealing a Monessen police cruiser and crashing it into a tree early Monday, according to court records.

Jamya Dee Avona Leonard, 19, of Uniontown, was charged with receiving stolen property, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and theft by police after, police say, she admitted stealing the cruiser about 3:30 a.m.

Police from multiple departments first apprehended Leonard after she was involved in a prior slow-speed pursuit of another vehicle that was reported operating only on three tires and a rim, police said.

Leonard was a passenger during the initial pursuit and police said they are still seeking the male driver in that chase. The driver fled the scene after a traffic stop on Oneida Avenue, according to city police Lt. Aaron Thompson.

The police pursuit began after a security guard at Cleveland-Cliffs Coke Works reported a black Mercedes driving on three tires and a rim in the wrong direction in the 300 block of Donner Avenue just after 3 a.m.

At one point the car drove onto a sidewalk and into a parking lot followed by Thompson's cruiser with police lights activated before returning to Donner and eventually stopping in a different parking area along Oneida Street, Thompson said in court papers.

Thompson said the driver in the initial chase was traveling about 5 mph during the pursuit but refused to pull over.

An officer drew his weapon on Leonard and the unidentified driver before the male suspect stopped the car and fled on foot, court papers said. Police could not locate him after a search.

As Thompson ran after the driver, he reported receiving a call that a police cruiser crashed in the 400 block of Oneida.

Rostraver Township police found Leonard there with lumps on her head. She told police she was injured by the cruiser's air bag when she wrecked the vehicle, which was found crashed into a tree with extensive damages.

"(Leonard) admitted to officers that after (Thompson) left his vehicle and began to chase the unknown male driver on foot, she stole the patrol unit," Thompson wrote in the complaint.

Thompson said in court documents that Leonard refused to identify the male driver in the initial pursuit. The case remains under investigation.

Leonard has no prior criminal record in Pennsylvania, according to online court records. She was ordered held in the county prison after failing to post $20,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing April 23.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@triblive.com or via Twitter .