Witness recounts moment man allegedly overpowered officer, stole police cruiser

Suspect Richard Payne (Photo: CSPD) in foreground of crash aftermath.
By  | 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A struggle between officer and suspect ended with the suspect first stealing, then crashing the officer's vehicle on I-25. Court documents reveal the officer held on to his cruiser for more than 50 yards as the suspect took off.

The suspect was immediately captured after he flipped the vehicle just north of Bijou Street. Police identified him Monday as 36-year-old Richard Payne.

The incident started just before 7 Saturday night when the police department was notified of a man acting erratically in the area of Uintah Street and Wood Street. By the time the first officer got on scene, the man was walking down the on-ramp onto I-25.

"As he first responded out it sounded like things were OK," said Lt. Howard Black with the Colorado Springs Police Department. "He requested medical to swing by and to really just check out this individual.

According to arrest papers, the suspect told the officer he needed help because he had taken a bunch of pills. Things reportedly escalated quickly when he aggressively came towards the officer and asked him to "shoot him."

"The next thing we hear, the officer was requesting assistance, emergency assistance. Officers came into the area and found the officer away from his car on the roadway the on-ramp from Uintah onto I-25."

The police department says the suspect briefly overpowered the officer during a struggle, knocked him to the ground and took the cruiser.

"The individual had jumped into the car, took off with that car, and rolled our marked CSPD vehicle just north of Bijou on the southbound [side] of I-25," Black said.

A witness passing by the scene told 11 News she saw the exact moment the suspect stole the cruiser.

"Saw the red and blue [police lights], so I was slowing down, and a gentleman ran out in front of my car waving his arms. Officer approached him to try to get him to stop, and he put up his arms like he was trying to fight the officer," Lauren Stewart told 11 News.

"The officer pulled out his pepper spray but didn't get to use it. The guy ran for the police car and jumped in. The officer, you know, jumped in, trying to pull him out of the car, and the guy threw the officer out of the car on the on-ramp."

The last Stewart saw of the suspect, he was driving on the interstate towards downtown. He would make it just a mile before flipping the cruiser multiple times, landing in a grassy median splitting the interstate. He was the only person in the vehicle.

Both the officer and the suspect were taken to the hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries.

"I am really happy to report our officer does not have any serious injuries," Black said.

Payne is facing charges of second-degree assault on a peace officer, aggravated motor vehicle theft, and DUID.