Garfield Heights police chief confident procedures were followed in chase of escaped prisoner

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - Garfield Heights Police Chief Robert Byrne says pursuit policies were followed during a chase that ended with a crash and the death of an escaped prisoner Donnie Thomas on Friday.

"When the speeds got up there and got a little carried away, our officers backed off and did the right thing. Unfortunately, it ended the way it did," said Byrne.

Camera footage from the Ohio Department of Transportation shows Thomas racing over the Valley View bridge with cruisers close behind.

It's estimated that speeds exceeded 100 mph.

Byrne said his investigation now will focus on how Thomas was able to overpower a jailer and get away.

Thomas reportedly assaulted a guard, dashed out of a Garfield Heights jail and quickly stopped behind a dumpster a block away to drop jail keys.

In his few hours on the run, Thomas was able to break into a Maple Heights home and get the keys to Jasmine Johnson's car while she was away.

"It made me think like if I was home he probably would have tried to hurt me or my daughters," said Johnson.

The only one hurt in the chase was Thomas.

Chief Byrne stresses the crash happened after the pursuit was called off, noting "These were his decisions throughout the day and he fled from us and we made an attempt to stop him."

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