A Clifton police officer escaped serious injury when he was dragged by a car driven by a fleeing woman involved in a chase that ended with a head-on collision in Kearny – and included a police-cruiser crash on the New Jersey Turnpike.
It began when two men and two women pulled a dine-and-dash at the Applebee’s restaurant on Route 3 Wednesday night, Detective Lt. Robert Bracken said.
Two of the women were wearing wigs at the time, Bracken said.
Employees grabbed one of the men as the crew ran from the restaurant. The other three fled, the lieutenant said.
Soon after, police spotted a Toyota Prius occupied by two women going the wrong way near the entrance/exit of Clifton Commons.
Neither looked like the women who employees said fled the restaurant without paying, Bracken said.
Then the officers saw wigs in the car.
At that point, the driver hit the gas while one officer’s arm was still inside the car.
He was dragged about 50 feet before he was able to free himself, Bracken said.
A high-speed chase followed on eastbound Route 3, joined by other units, before the driver pulled onto the southbound Turnpike – where a police cruiser was involved in a crash with another vehicle, the lieutenant said.
The chase continued onto westbound 280, with the suspect “operating the vehicle recklessly and at high speeds,” Bracken said.
Finally, she crashed the Prius head-on into another vehicle on Bergen Avenue in Kearny, he said.
Even with heavy front-end damage, the driver kept going – until she came to a brick well in an elementary schoolyard at the end of a dead-end street, the lieutenant said.
Clifton Sgt. Joshin Smith took both women into custody and brought them to headquarters. Police also had the man seized by employees and the fourth suspect, whom they arrested at Clifton Commons while the pursuit was going on..
The driver who dragged the officer before the chase was identified as Chante Royal, 19, of Montclair.
She’s charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, aggravated assault, robbery, eluding and drug and weapons charges.
The other three, all 18, were charged with theft of services:
- Jasmine Ramsey of Orange;
- Dellmicah Dennis of East Orange;
- Damian Negron of Montclair.
Negron also was charged with hindering apprehension by providing a false identity.
Royal remained held Thursday in the Passaic County Jail. The others were released.
The severity of injuries wasn’t immediately known, although Bracken said none were considered life-threatening.
ALSO SEE: Clifton police believe they caught a man overnight who's responsible for a recent string of vehicle burglaries.
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