Laurel man indicted on charges in chase, fight with Howard Co. officer

A Laurel man has been indicted on drug, traffic, weapons, and assault charges in connection with an April incident where he led a Howard County police officer on a car and foot chase that culminated in a one-on-one struggle where the man allegedly attempted to take the officer's gun.

James L. Thomas, 36, of the 500 block of 9th Street in Laurel, was indicted last week by a Howard County grand jury on 13 charges in connection with the April 13 incident including: second-degree assault, cocaine possession, fleeing a police officer, and disarming a law officer. 

Thomas is being held at the Howard County Detention Center on $250,000 bond.

According to the charging documents, a Howard County police officer was conducting radar enforcement on Route 216 near Interstate 95 at around 2:06 a.m. on April 13 when he saw a car traveling at 68 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour speed zone.

The officer pulled behind the car, a silver Cadillac El Dorado, and switched on his lights to make a traffic stop, according to the documents.

The officer followed the car to the intersection of Route 216 and All Saints Road, where the traffic signal was red, according to the documents, and the car continued through the red light at the same high rate of speed before making a right onto Montgomery Street. 

The officer followed the car onto 8th Street and Maple Avenue when it reached a dead end in the road, according to the documents. Once there, the driver, later identified as Thomas, exited the car and fled on foot, according to the documents.

The suspect led the officer on a chase through pathways, neighborhoods, and backyards before being tackled by the officer after stumbling twice, according to the documents.

A struggle ensued, during which the officer saw the handle of handgun in the suspect's waist, according to the documents. The officer grabbed the gun and tossed it aside and then told the suspect to place his hands behind his head and that he was under arrest, according to the documents.

The officer then restrained the suspect by placing his hands over his head, but the suspect's left hand got free and began pulling at the officer's belt, according to the documents.

The suspect unsnapped the buckle over the officer's gun and grabbed the handle, according to the documents. The officer pinned the gun against his side and struck the suspect in the left temple with his right hand, which resulted in the suspect falling to the ground, according to the documents.

The suspect then pleaded to be let go and the officer applied a sleeper hold, known as the lateral vascular neck restraint, and continues to subdue the suspect, according to the documents.

The officer kept the suspect restrained until other officers, including officers from Laurel City, arrived on the scene, according to the documents.

After the suspect was in custody, officers recovered a large bag of white rock like substance, which was identified as crack cocaine, in his right pants pocket, according to the documents.

The officers said more crack cocaine was found in the suspect's sock, and officers also found marijuana and a scale -- which police said is traditionally used to sell drugs -- in the El Dorado, according to the documents.

Thomas, who was indicted on June 18, is scheduled to be arrainged on July 17. 

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