LEWISTON, Idaho – A fugitive popped from the trunk of a vehicle stopped for investigation. The officer did a superb job identifying trouble, and responded accordingly. The incident was caught on dash cam.
ABC News reported that Lewiston Police Officer Thomas Woods stopped a vehicle for not having license plates, after it had left “a residence known to be frequented by wanted fugitive, 20-year-old Jesse Harrell,” the Lewiston Police Department said in a statement.
Officer Woods was interviewing the vehicle’s driver, Angelia Barnett-Harrell, 47, when he heard a noise in the trunk. He asked Barnett-Harrell if her son was in the trunk, to which she immediately responded, “It’s a toy gun, don’t shoot him,” according to police.
Lt. Jeff Klone with Lewisville PD said Officer Woods was checking the status of the driver when he heard a noise come from the area of the trunk. Woods noticed the trunk appeared to unlatch from the inside. This led to a suspicion the wanted person was hiding there.
Suddenly the trunk popped open and a man later identified as Jesse Harrell appeared according the local news reports.
Harrell is holding something that appears to be a firearm. The officer attempted to close the trunk on the man, but his leg blocked the effort. Harrell jumped out and the officer wrestled him to a position of submission until back-up officers arrived.
The video can be viewed below:
“Jesse Harrell sprung the trunk lid open while holding a firearm in his hand,” according to the police statement. “Officer Woods immediately attempted to gain control of Mr. Harrell and they fell to the ground, where Ofc. Woods was able to strip the firearm away from Jesse Harrell. Mr. Harrell continued to try and punch and spit on Ofc. Woods until other officers arrived on scene and were able to handcuff Mr. Harrell.”
Harrell, according to police, “remained very belligerent and resistive, even when placed in the patrol car.”
“He (Officer Woods) handled himself very well. I do feel that in this situation, we don’t know if it’s a toy gun or not. It turned out that it was a toy gun, but it looked extremely real,” Klone said.
After reviewing the video, most officers would agree that deadly force would have been justified, particularly with the recent ambushes that have occurred around the country.
“To recognize the situation and handle it the way he did I think, one, goes to show the excellent character of our officer, and also that he used his training and his experience to protect himself and others,” Klone said. “Not every police officer is wanting to shoot somebody or use deadly force.”
Harrell was taken to Nez Perce County Jail and booked on outstanding warrants, including one for aggravated assault according to ABC News. Additional booking charges for the incident that occurred during the arrest include resisting/obstructing a police officer, battery on an officer, and possession of a concealed weapon, since set of brass knuckles were found on Harrell, police said.
His mother was booked on harboring a fugitive and possession of methamphetamine.