An alleged shoplifter police say led officers on a treacherous pursuit through three towns got out of prison less than a year ago after doing time for stealing.
Anthony Thompson, 40, of 251 Marble St. in Joliet was jailed after crashing into a Route 59 ditch near 143rd Street Sunday evening.
Police from Shorewood, Plainfield and Channahon were chasing Thompson after he injured a Shorewood officer in the parking lot of the at the corner of River Road and Route 52, said Shorewood Police Chief Aaron Klima.
Employees of the store called the cops on Thompson about 4 p.m. when he stole either a CD or DVD player, Klima said. An officer "engaged" Thompson as he was leaving the store, Klima said, but the alleged thief was in a hurry to get going.
"This gentleman left his car running to make a quick getaway," the chief said.
So quick a getaway, Klima said, that Thompson backed into one parked car and then pinned an officer between his vehicle and another.
"Luckily, he wasn't severely injured, but he's going to be sore for a while," Klima said of the officer. "It could have been a lot worse."
Thompson took off, police said, eventually heading north on Route 59 through Joliet and into Plainfield. Along the way, Klima said, squad cars pulled alongside the fleeing vehicle with officers making eye contact with Thompson and shouting for him to stop.
"This guy refused all lights and sirens," he said.
Near 143rd Street, Thompson abruptly braked and his car ended up in a ditch. Klima said he believes the fugitive planned to bail and make a run for it, but was thwarted when his door got stuck against a Plainfield police car close alongside.
Two Shorewood squad cars were damaged and another officer was hurt by the violent end to the chase, the chief said.
"I'm just worried about our guys," he said. "That's our most precious resource."
Local woman Lori Janiec witnessed the aftermath of the pursuit and crash as she drove south on Route 59 with her husband. In addition to the two damaged Shorewood squad cars, about a half-dozen unmarked vehicles were on the scene and one of the northbound lanes was closed, Janiec said.
"It was quite the sight with all the lights," she said.
Thompson and the two officers were transported to Provena St. Joseph Medical Center, where all three received treatment and were released from care.
As soon as he got out of the hospital, Thompson was taken to the Plainfield police station and then the Shorewood police station, where he was hit with charges of aggravated battery to a peace officer, aggravated fleeing, driving on a revoked or suspended license, and retail theft.
Thompson, who is still on parole following his November 2010 release from prison, was then taken to the Will County jail.
Thompson has done state time for such offenses as retail theft, driving on a revoked or suspended license, domestic battery, attempting to disarm a police officer and possession of a controlled substance.