PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A local man was unhurt but is facing several charges after he allegedly stole a local police cruiser and then crashed on a dirt road in nearby Chapman, according to police.
Richard Lyman III, 20, drove away in the cruiser at speeds in excess of 100 mph Friday evening after police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on Mapleton Road. Lyman is accused of stealing the cruiser after throwing rocks at close range at an officer who responded and got out of his vehicle to talk to Lyman.
In a message posted on the Presque Isle Police Department’s Facebook page, Chief Matthew Irwin said that Lyman has “special needs” and that the officer who responded, Ryan Eagles, had a prior peaceful interaction with Lyman months before and was aware of Lyman’s situation.
Irwin said Eagles took the right approach by not responding to the attack with force but instead by retreating to a safe distance, even if it resulted in the theft of Eagles’ cruiser.
“It appears to me at this early stage that Officer Eagles did what most of us would have hoped he had done, in that he recognized a special needs citizen and tried to be helpful,” Irwin wrote. “Rather than confronting a vulnerable citizen as a stiff officer who just wanted to move on to the next call, he tried a softer and more personal approach, and it didn’t quite go as planned, as is often the case.”
According to Cpl. Wayne Selfridge of the Presque Isle Police Department, Eagles was unhurt in the altercation.
Trooper Matthew Casavant of Maine State Police responded to the scene to assist Eagles and saw Lyman speeding away as he arrived on the scene, according to police. Casavant gave chase as Lyman drove off and stayed in pursuit for more than 10 miles until Lyman lost control of the cruiser and crashed it.
Selfridge said Sunday that the damage to the cruiser is estimated to be $8,500. He said Lyman was arrested on charges of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, theft, operating a motor vehicle without a license, and two counts of aggravated criminal mischief.
Lyman was being held Sunday morning at Aroostook County Jail in Houlton on $5,000 cash bail, Selfridge said.
Selfridge added that the situation could have turned out worse than it did. Eagles managed to avoid being hit by the rocks thrown at him, and Lyman sped off down a relatively undeveloped, dead-end road when he tried to escape.
“If he had gone through town on Route 1, it could have been a lot different,” Selfridge said.