February 14, 2023
A Wooster man is in custody following a 35-minute, high-speed pursuit throughout Richland County in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day after the suspect reportedly stole a Richland County Sheriff’s deputy’s cruiser.
The incident began when troopers from the Ashland post of the Ohio Highway Patrol started to pursue Arthur Cook Jr., 43, of Wooster on a report of a stolen vehicle out of Wooster. Troopers terminated the chase or lost Cook about 12:10 a.m. in Richland County when Cook allegedly began driving the wrong way on U.S. 30.
Richland County sheriff’s deputies were assisting the patrol on the report of a stolen vehicle report out of Wooster when they found the vehicle abandoned behind a barn in the 3300 block of Crider Road. A wallet found in the abandoned vehicle had an ID belonging to Arthur Cook Jr., according to reports.
While officers searched the area for the suspect, the suspect stole a Richland County Sheriff’s deputy’s new Ford F-150 pickup that had been parked on Crider Road where the abandoned vehicle was found, according to reports.
Male suspect jumped into cruiser
Capt. Donald Zehner said the sheriff’s office pickup, operated by Lt. Steve Boyd, had been locked initially, but when Boyd went to get some equipment out of the truck he did not relock it and the suspect allegedly stole it.
According to the sheriff’s report, while deputies were searching the area of Crider Road they heard a trooper yelling at someone to stop. A deputy said he saw a male suspect jump into Boyd’s cruiser and pull out of where it was parked, driving at a high rate of speed, almost striking several officers.
The stolen cruiser headed east of Crider on Ohio 603. It then entered U.S. 30 westbound, traveling onto Crider Road and then Ohio 430, failing to comply with authorities’ lights and sirens.
The stolen pickup was then spotted traveling on U.S. 42 toward Ashland County, according to the sheriff’s report. Near Fleming Falls Road, the driver was seen throwing items out of the sheriff’s stolen pickup driver’s side window from Boyd’s duty bag. Items were later recovered with assistance from troopers’ aviation unit, the report said.
The pursuit took authorities on numerous roadways including Crider Road, Ohio 430, Ohio 545 and Pavonia Road. At one point the suspect drove down the side of the railroad tracks on Richland Shale Road, the report said. The suspect then drove into a field and drove at a deputy’s vehicle that was in pursuit of the suspect, then continued to to drive away.
The suspect was eventually apprehended on Crall Road after the stolen cruiser ran over stop sticks on Ohio 545 placed by the patrol and drove into a muddy field near the former Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, according to the sheriff’s reports.
A short struggle ensued during the suspect’s capture, according to the sheriff’s reports.
A deputy ordered the suspect to show his hands. The suspect crawled out of the stolen sheriff’s pickup and onto the hood of the deputy’s cruiser, which had come to rest against the driver side of the stolen vehicle. The suspect jumped to the ground and appeared he was not going to comply with verbal commands, the deputy said in his report. Two deputies pushed the suspect to the ground and began giving him orders to give them his hands.
The suspect refused and kept his hands under his body, the report said. A deputy struck the suspect in the head to gain compliance. A trooper was able to get the suspect’s right arm out from under his body. The deputy struck the suspect again after he refused to give his left hand for compliance and was able to pry his left hand out from under his body. Authorities were then able to handcuff him.
Mansfield fire and EMS were contacted as the suspect had minor injuries, “a small amount of blood coming from his nose, and a small cut to his forehead,” according to the report. The deputy said in the report that he did not have time to turn on his body camera during the incident.
Another deputy said in his report that his bodycam was activated at the beginning of the incident “but malfunctioned and turned off.”
Cook Jr. was arraigned at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Mansfield Municipal Court on a charge of failure to comply with police officers, according to court records. He was issued a $200,000 cash and personal recognizance bond and electronic monitoring was ordered. He remains in the Richland County Jail.
Zehner said the truck suffered minor damage. No law enforcement officers were injured.
The News Journal made a public records request of dash cam and body camera footage but Sheriff’s Capt. Jimmy Sweat Jr. said no body camera footage of the incident had been downloaded. Richland County sheriff’s cruisers are not equipped with dash cameras, Sgt. Ryan Purpura, spokesman for the Ohio Highway Patrol, said he would provide dash cam video from the trooper’s pursuit of the suspect on U.S. 30, but the video was not available by press time.
Zehner said Cook Jr. has a federal warrant for his arrest on a parole violation.