Police chase stolen ambulance in Philadelphia, nab driver

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man stole an ambulance and tried to run over an officer who shot him three times, leading to a low-speed chase through Philadelphia that lasted more than an hour, authorities said.

Authorities were called to a motel in northeast Philadelphia around 9.20pm on Friday for reports of a domestic disturbance involving a man and a woman that necessitated medical attention for one or more parties, Staff Inspector Sekou Kinebrew of Philadelphia police said. The man became combative and jumped into the ambulance, driving at one of the officers who medics called for backup, Kinebrew said.

The officer fired his weapon four times, striking the man three times: twice in the left leg and once in the side. The officer was struck by the ambulance and was hospitalised with injuries that Kinebrew described as non-life-threatening.

During the ensuing police pursuit that ended around 10.40pm, the ambulance travelled at speeds between 16 to 40 km/h. The distance between the locations and the beginning and end of the chase is less than four kilometres, but Kinebrew said the driver made several stops before he was eventually taken into custody without incident.

At one point in the chase, aerial video showed the man stops in a parking lot of a fast-food restaurant and open the door as officers approached. He then drove off and barrels into police vehicles blocking the exit. The ambulance, marked as belonging to the Philadelphia Fire Department, came to a halt for around 10 seconds as officers again approached, before the driver rammed his way back on the street.

Two marked police vehicles were struck, Kinebrew said. No officers were believed to have been seriously injured in connection with that collision. Police are also investigating whether the driver contributed to an accident involving civilians. Injuries in that case weren’t immediately clear. Kinebrew said a tow truck that local news outlets reported tried intervening during the pursuit may have also been struck.

He appeared to be clad in only a pair of shorts when he was taken into custody, video showed. The man, who was taken to a hospital, is in his 40s, Kinebrew said, but police did not release his name as he was not immediately charged with a crime.

A stolen ambulance collides with a vehicle before police officers capture a man driving the ambulance in Philadelphia. PHOTO: AP