The Wiscasset police chief apologized after a man who was arrested for operating under the influence briefly escaped custody while handcuffed Sunday.
Chief Larry Hesseltine had conducted a traffic stop on Main Street following reports of “erratic operation” by a driver southbound on Route 1 in Edgecomb, police said.
The driver, Vlad D. Palli, 23, of Richmond, was allegedly speeding in the breakdown lane near the Wiscasset Bridge and almost caused a head-on collision. Palli’s car brakes locked during the chase, causing the car to skid between two southbound cars and into the northbound lane.
When Hesseltine arrested Palli, he handcuffed the man and placed him in the back of the cruiser. But the chief thought Palli had hidden contraband between the seats of the cruiser and let him out, with his hands handcuffed in front of him rather than behind him, the chief said in a statement.
Then, Palli ran to his car and drove away.
Hesseltine was retrieving an item from under the rear seat when he took off. Another officer saw Palli in Dresden and tried to pull him over, but the man continued to flee toward Richmond, reaching speeds up to 100 mph.
Richmond police briefly joined the pursuit, losing track of Palli on Front Street, before finding his car over an embankment. It appeared that he had lost control while entering a dirt parking lot and fled on foot.
After a short foot chase, officers found and arrested the man near his residence. The pursuit included officers from Richmond, Topsham, and Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office.
“I am embarrassed by how the events unfolded and thankful that the incident came to a peaceful resolution without anyone being injured,” Chief Hesseltine said in his statement.
Once he was brought to jail, Palli took an intoxilyzer test which resulted in .08. The test was taken four hours after the initial stop on Main Street on Wiscasset.
Palli is facing charges of operating under the influence, operating without a license, violating conditions of release and eluding authorities. At the time of the chase, he was released on bail from drug-related charges out of Cumberland County.