Prisoner escapes in state police car during trip to jail


A state police trooper ticketing a litterer lost a prisoner he was taking to jail and his police cruiser for six hours near Ocean City on Friday afternoon.

Police said the theft occurred when Trooper Matthew Mumford was transporting a man, who had been arrested by state Natural Resources Police in a boat off Ocean City, to the Worcester County jail.

After 4 p.m., Trooper Mumford noticed a black Geo Spectrum in front of him.

"The passenger had thrown trash out the window and the trash struck the police car," state police spokesman Michael J. McKelvin said.

Trooper Mumford pulled the Spectrum over near U.S. 113 in Ironshire and started writing two tickets.

"While the trooper was outside the vehicle, [the suspect] slid across the seat and took off in the cruiser," Mr. McKelvin said.

The trooper tried to stop the car and was struck in the right hand by the front right bumper, of the car, Mr. McKelvin said.

Police launched a six-hour search for the cruiser, and the fugitive was arrested about 9:30 p.m. after he was seen on foot near the post office in Girdletree by a Worcester County sheriff's deputy. The state police car was found at a church about three-quarters of a mile away.

Trooper Mumford suffered no serious injuries. The car's radio was slightly damaged, police said.

The misadventure could have been avoided had the suspect shown a little more courtesy, Natural Resources Police said.

The man was piloting a rented boat near Ocean City when he was stopped by a Natural Resources officer, who had intended to merely issue a warning for negligent operations, police said.

The pilot's uncooperative attitude prompted the officer to run a computer records check for outstanding warrants, which registered active warrants for theft of more than $300, failure to pay child support and two warrants for failure to appear in court, Natural Resources Police said.

Matt Lew Marshall, 35, of California in St. Mary's County was charged with theft of a motor vehicle, assault with intent to murder and other violations, police said. He was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail last night in the Worcester County jail.

The incident was the second time this year that a police car has been taken from a state trooper.

On Feb. 27, two youths being interviewed at the scene of a car fire jumped into a police car and drove it to Atlantic City, N.J., and down a boat ramp into an inlet.

"The incident from February was totally different," Mr. McKelvin said. The two youths who took the car were not suspected of anything when they took the car.

As for Trooper Mumford, "he has been questioned by his own commander, and I'm sure there will be at least an administrative review," as there is in any case of lost equipment or prisoners, Mr. McKelvin said.

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