Chris Van Horne, Fort Worth Reporter
Police say a man who bolted from the Tarrant County courthouse during a routine background check today stole a police car and crashed into an SUV at an intersection after running a couple of red lights.
A man who walked into the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in downtown Fort Worth on Tuesday will make a return visit soon after running from a court room, stealing a police and crashing into another vehicle.
Around 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Fred Lee Jackson and Terrence Larry Crowder walked into the courthouse to deal with a warrant issue in the Magistrate Court. According to the Tarrant County Sherrif's Office, Jackson was summonded to the court to have a hearing on a charge of tampering/fabricating evidence. Before the hearing began, officers say, Jackson failed to identify himself and both he and Crowder stood up to speak with the deputy.
While Crowder "screened" the deputy, Jackson ran from the courtroom, located in the basement, up a flight of stairs, through an emergency fire exit, and out into the street, according to the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office.
Jackson led deputies and Fort Worth Police officers on a foot chase through more than a dozen blocks of downtown. Fort Worth bike officers had the suspect in sight, as did a female officer who had set up as part of a perimeter in her patrol car on E. 6th Street. She got out of her car and chased after the suspect.
As the foot pursuit entered the Fort Worth Police Department's Central Division parking lot, the suspect then doubled back toward the officer's patrol car and jumped in.
"She tried to go hands on, grab him and pull him out," said Sgt. Pedro Criado. "He resisted, pushed her off and he was able to speed off for a short distance."
He only drove about a block before running a red light at East 7th and Calhoun Streets and hit an SUV headed eastbound. Both Jackson and the driver were taken to local hospitals with non-serious injuries.
"We are fortunate no one was seriously injured in this incident," Criado said.
Crowder, who officers arrested after the incident, is being held in jail as the investigation continues.
The Tarrant County Sheriff's Office says the whole ordeal was unnecessary, because the suspect would have likely had an opportunity to post bond on the warrant after the magistrate read him the charges.
"I can't understand why a person would run out on a situation like that when he had every opportunity to walk out the same door he walked in," said Terry Grisham of TCSO. "But he chose to run out the door he came in and caused a lot of folks to run after him."
Grisham says the sheriff's office will review its escape policy in wake of the incident. However, he said, that policy is geared toward prisoners already in custody, chains or handcuffs, not people who walk in off the street.
When asked if the officer responded correctly to leaving her patrol car to pursue the suspect on foot, Criado said there would be an internal investigation to see if she followed procedures correctly.
The sheriff's office will finger print the suspect to determine his identity, which is what led to the chase from the beginning, but say he will likely face several felony charges on top of the warrant.
NBC 5's Greg Janda contributed to an earlier version of this story.