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Published: 1/9/2004

Man in drag leads police on bizarre chase

BY ROBIN ERB
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Note to criminals: The worst, absolutely worst, place to flee from police officers is to police headquarters at shift change while dressed in drag.

A Toledo man was arraigned yesterday in Toledo Municipal Court after a routine traffic stop set off a bizarre police pursuit in which the driver at times drove several miles under the speed limit, made a U-turn in front of crews, and twice left the city limits out of reach of trailing police, only to return again.

“We joked at one time that we probably could stop and get a cup of coffee, pick this [chase] up again later, and still catch up with him,” Toledo police Officer Rick Fisher said.

The incident began shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday when Officer Fisher and his partner, Paul Toth, noticed a Ford Taurus weaving in East Toledo.

Stopped by the crew, the driver simply responded, “I am not going to jail. You will have to kill me first.”

“Then he just threw it in drive and took off,” Officer Fisher said.

The description of the suspect: wearing women s clothing, high-heeled shoes, and a wig.

For the next 45 minutes, the Taurus wound through the streets of Toledo, onto I-75 into Northwood, back onto I-75, then onto I-475 into Sylvania Township where it continued on the expressway, eventually circling back into Toledo 23 minutes later.

Finally, with at least two cars on his tail and several other jurisdictions monitoring the situation, the driver of the Taurus turned toward 525 North Erie St. - an extraordinarily bad place and time, as it turned out.

That s the Safety Building, police headquarters. And it was shift change.

Suddenly surrounded by officers spilling out onto the streets for the night, the driver of the Taurus slowed, allowing officers to break his car s windows, unlock its doors, and put it in park.

The driver, identified as Sandy Long, 55, of 2123 Momany St., Oregon, was charged with fleeing and eluding, failing to comply with police orders, and several traffic violations. He was being held last night in the Lucas County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bond - a far different outcome than the officers had first envisioned.

“We would have ... given him a summons for a court date,” Officer Fisher said. “He never would have been booked into jail.”



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