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Police car chase and crash
(WJZ TV)

Last August, a 25-minute police chase touched off across three jurisdictions when patrol officers saw a distressed woman inside a car whose driver fled when they attempted to pull it over.

The pursuit was carried live by broadcast networks, and ended dramatically when the vehicle crashed into a Southwest Baltimore home and a detective, clad in an all-white suit, placed the driver under arrest.

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Charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment, and assault for the two men in the vehicle, Robert Bethea and Mark Jackson, were dropped. Jackson, 36, received two years in prison for a drug charge related to discarding drugs as he fled; Bethea, 37, received no jail time or even a fine for a count of reckless driving, according to his attorney.

Prosecutors say the woman in the vehicle vanished and couldn't be located for the court proceedings. With no victim, they had a tough decision to make.

"Unfortunately, despite our continuous efforts to locate the victim, which included utilizing the Warrant Apprehension Task Force, Vice Squad, and detectives, we were unable to find the victim," said Rochelle Ritchie, a spokeswoman for the State's Attorney's Office. "Thus, we had no choice but to pursue only the charges that could be substantiated without the victim's testimony."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis in August visited the scene where the pursuit ended, praising the officers for their work. They hailed it as an example of solid police work, coming amid a huge spike in violence and with tensions still simmering in the fallout from the killing of Freddie Gray.

"That's what they do every day, and I think sometimes we lose sight of that," Rawlings-Blake said. "Every single day when the men and women of the Baltimore City Police Department show up for work they put their lives on the line."

She said the woman was "destined to be injured, if not killed."

Davis called the pursuit "textbook," and commended the officers' "professionalism," "restraint," "service" and "dedication."

The chase took place during the evening news, and was tracked by news helicopters as the silver sedan led police into Anne Arundel County and back into the city. The chase ended when the suspect's car crashed into the front steps of a boarded-up rowhouse in Carrollton Ridge.

Before the crash, Jackson bailed out of the vehicle and threw a baggie that turned out to be drugs, Ritchie said. For that, he pleaded guilty to a drug charge and received a sentence of 15 years, with all but 13 years suspended. Because he has already served nine months, he could be released soon.

Both men had been held without bail pending the outcome of the cases. Jackson previously received six years in 2001 for a drug charge, records show. Bethea did not appear to have any prior convictions.

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