Video shows car thief ram Port Orchard police car to escape

This still shot from video filmed in January by an unnamed bystander and shared on social media shows a suspected car thief repeatedly ram Port Orchard police cars before escaping.
·3 min read

Port Orchard police are looking for a man seen on video Wednesday ramming a stolen car into a patrol vehicle in the Goodwill parking lot to make his getaway, despite efforts by officers to block him to keep him from fleeing.

By the end of the video, posted to the streaming service Streamable and filmed by an unidentified bystander, the stolen car struck at least one other nearby car before speeding off.

Port Orchard Police Chief Matt Brown said car thefts are spiking in the city — as they are across Kitsap County and elsewhere. With new limits restricting how officers can pursue suspects, officers had attempted to stop the suspect from fleeing by boxing him in, knowing they could not chase him if drove away.

“It didn’t quite work out the way we wanted,” Brown said. “He was able to get away, but we know who he is and intend to pick him up at a later time.”

Police were called to the Goodwill, 1700 Mile Hill Drive, at about 9:50 a.m. after receiving a call about an occupied stolen car. Three officers responded and attempted to box in the driver.

What followed, as shown in the video, is the suspect repeatedly striking one police car — a statement from the department said the driver actually struck two police cars as well as two other cars in the parking lot, before escaping.

The crimes for which the driver is suspected — third-degree assault, hit and run and possession of a stolen car — do not qualify as offenses for which officers can pursue, Brown said.

Officers can pursue drivers if they have strong evidence that the person committed certain serious violent offenses, but third-degree assault does not count.

“Even that assault is not enough for us to chase him,” Brown said.

Officers from multiple agencies assisted Port Orchard police in tracking the suspect over the course of the next several hours, the department said in a statement.

Brown said the video of the incident was dramatic, but he appreciated that nobody was injured.

“It could have been a lot worse,” he said.

Figures released by Brown show that through July 2021 the city averaged about 4.5 reports of stolen vehicles a month. That rate dramatically shot up shortly after the new law took effect, with data showing that since August, the city now averages 21 reports of stolen cars a month. In December alone, 35 cars were reported stolen, he said.

Brown said the causes are complex. As the coronavirus pandemic has ground on and the country has become more divided, he said society is experiencing a breakdown where people are less courteous, kind and caring, reflected in the increase of reports of aggressive driving.

Then, he said, with the law enforcement reform measures – which include new laws beyond those restricting officers’ ability to pursue suspects in cars – it’s become more difficult for officers to immediately catch car thieves.

“You don’t have to stop for the police anymore,” Brown said. Those who flee police can still be charged with attempting to elude police, but the police can’t chase them for that crime and have to locate them later to make an arrest.

Further, Brown said following the implementation of the reform measures, the calls for service from Port Orchard residents requesting contact from police have increased 18.5%. The department has three open line officer positions for its force of 21 officers.

“I don’t think the sky is falling, but crime is significantly up and calls are significantly up and just like every other agency, we are struggling not just with retaining but recruiting officers,” Brown said.

This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Car thief seen on video ramming Port Orchard police car to escape