Detroit Free Press
Her high-speed spin in the driver’s seat of a police car was apparently a joy ride for the woman who took off in an unoccupied Ferndale squad car, then led police on a wild chase before crashing in Detroit.
As shown on a dashcam video, the woman led pursuing officers at up to 100 mph — at times going westbound in eastbound lanes, weaving around and narrowly missing dozens of cars — before slamming into another vehicle at 83 mph, according to the squad car’s onboard electronics.
Amazingly, there were no serious injuries to the other driver nor to the alleged cop-car thief — Destiny Hawkins, 24, who is thought to be homeless. Hawkins, charged with car theft as well as fleeing and eluding police in the July 5 incident, is in Oakland County Jail in lieu of $250,000 cash bond, said Sgt. Baron Brown, spokesman for Ferndale Police.
“When she was arrested and they asked her why she did this, her answer was something like she just wanted to have some fun,” Brown said.
Hawkins walked across all lanes of Woodward Avenue at 9 Mile while observing the officer assisting a pedestrian who was stuck on the sidewalk after a cab driver drove off with his luggage, Brown said. The officer walked back and forth to his squad car several times while trying to help the taxi passenger remember the name of the cab company, Brown said.
What the cop didn’t notice, although his body-cam recorded, was Hawkins “making a beeline to his car,” Brown said. As he turned his back to the brand-new police-equipped Chevrolet Tahoe jammed with rifles and electronics, Hawkins leaped into the driver’s seat and sped off, luckily spotted by “a Good Samaritan driver,” Brown said.
That driver followed Hawkins north on Woodward to I-696, then east to I-75 and south to westbound 7 Mile, where pursuing Ferndale police caught up with her, and “that’s when she really kicked it up” to an estimated 100 mph, he said. Crossing Woodward, Hawkins’ view through the windshield — as shown on the video — shows her switching from the westbound lanes of 7 Mile to the eastbound lanes — while still going westbound, yet faster and faster, flashing around oncoming cars by inches.
The chase ended near Livernois in Detroit when the hefty Chevy Tahoe cop car, now weaving across all lanes of 7 Mile, struck another big Chevy, an older Chevrolet Suburban that was going in the same direction, “so everything worked in favor” of a far less serious collision than if Hawkins had driven into head-on impact with a small car, Brown said.
What could motivate such a theft at 11 a.m. on a weekday morning? Ferndale police were tactful.
“She presented some indications of mental illness. All through the booking process, she gave peculiar answers, and some peculiar non-answers, you might say,” Brown said, adding: “We have no indication at all that she was high on anything.”
Hawkins gave addresses for herself in both Detroit and Clinton Township, but would not say where she lived and investigators believe she was homeless, Brown said.
Unfortunately, the few minutes it took to steal, speed and crash the new squad car is a significant loss to the Ferndale Police Department. The department “found no violation of any departmental procedures by the officer involved — he was never more than a few feet from his vehicle” but police are taking steps “to make sure nothing like this ever happens again,” Brown said.
Police will have their squad cars modified in a way that no one who is not authorized can just jump in and drive away, he said.
Other departments might want to do the same. In April, Sterling Heights police were led on a chase when a passenger in a road-rage incident exited a car, jumped into a running Sterling Heights Police car and — you guessed it — sped off.
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