Police share background on street sweeper incident

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Richmond Police Department vehicle. File photo

Police are seeking multiple charges against a man they say stole a street sweeper from a construction site and led officers on a chase around Richmond.

The unique pursuit, which included the partial collapse of a garage before the sweeper entered the Whitewater River, was captured on local social media videos.

Richmond Police Department Capt. Curt Leverton said that police are seeking multiple charges against Sammy H. Allen, 54, including vehicle theft and resisting law enforcement (Level 6 felonies), along with leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving.

Shortly before 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, third-shift officers responded to the 900 block of Butler Street on the city’s northwest side, where a person was reported to be driving a piece of heavy machinery recklessly.

Police heard that the driver struck other vehicles with that equipment, but officers did not locate any damaged vehicles, according to the news release.

Dispatchers were told that the driver was also swerving at people like he was trying to hit them and driving through residential yards, Leverton said.

Officers located and began following the piece of machinery, which was identified as a street sweeper.

The sweeper was later found to be stolen from a construction company doing construction on Sim Hodgin Parkway in Richmond, Leverton said.

Officers pursued Allen at very low speeds of 10 to 15 miles per hour for just more than an hour as the sweeper was driven though the city.

Allen struck a garage in the 500 block of South Eighth Street several times, causing the garage to partially collapse, Leverton said. His colleagues reported that t almost flipped the sweeper over while striking the garage.

Police deployed spike strips, but they were mostly unsuccessful because the driver was going slow enough to maneuver around most of them, Leverton said.

The driver reportedly swerved at one officer who was attempting to set up the spike strips, causing the officer to seek cover, Leverton said. The spike strips were able to puncture one tire, but it was not enough to disable the sweeper.

The pursuit ended when the driver entered the river in the street sweeper while in the Whitewater Gorge near Wayne County Veterans Memorial Park, Leverton said.  The sweeper became disabled, so Allen attempted to flee on foot.

Allen was apprehended by officers with assistance from a Wayne County Sheriff’s Department canine.

Allen was transported to Reid Health for injuries to his arm from the canine apprehension as well as other facial injuries from the struggle with officers.  Allen remained at the hospital for treatment and observation.

One RPD officer sought treatment at Reid Health after the incident, but was released to duty after treatment.

Assistance came from Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Centerville Police Department and Richmond Fire Department (medic).

 

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