Broward County

Watch how a police officer was dragged half a mile by an out-of-control driver

Pembroke police officer clings onto fleeing car

Body cam footage shows a Pembroke Pines police officer clinging to a car after police were called to Century Village regarding an overdose.
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Body cam footage shows a Pembroke Pines police officer clinging to a car after police were called to Century Village regarding an overdose.

For about a half mile, a Pembroke Pines police officer clung to the side of a car as the driver careened out of a retirement community.

Part of the hair-raising ride was captured on Officer John Cusack’s body camera. The camera, police say, fell off after the suspect made several “sharp maneuvers.” Surveillance video then captured the beginning of what turned into a chase through Broward during Tuesday’s morning rush hour.

It all started when police were called to Century Village because there was an unconscious couple in a car, according to police.

Cusack, a 19-year-veteran, found Thomas Cabrera and a woman passed out and a “small, clear plastic baggie with an unknown substance in plain view,” according to a police report.

Officer Jon Cusack
Officer John Cusack Pembroke Pines police

Cabrera, police say, woke up and put the car into drive. Cusack tried to stop Cabrera from fleeing by reaching into the car, but instead got caught in the door frame and was dragged for about a half mile.

Cusack can be heard yelling at Cabrera to stop as he hangs on to the side of the car.

On his way to Century Village’s Pembroke Road and 129th Avenue exit, Cabrera allegedly tried to ram into Pembroke Pines Fire Rescue trucks that were responding to the original overdose call. The trucks dodged Cabrera. Police say Cabrera also tried to pry the officer’s fingers off the door with one hand as he steered the car with the other.

The officer relinquished his grip at the Century Village exit and rolled. He was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital with serious, but not life-threatening injuries to his arms and legs.

“Officer Cusack’s uniform and shoes were shredded from being dragged along the roadway,” a detective wrote in Cabrera’s police report.

Meanwhile, Cabrera continued to flee, police said.

“It should be noted that the defendant drove in a wanton and careless disregard for the public safety endangering the lives of motorists while fleeing from officers in heavy rush hour traffic and reached speeds of approximately 105 mph, while driving in the break down lane at several points,” a detective wrote in his report.

The adventure ended around 9:10 a.m. on eastbound Interstate 595, near the exchanges for U.S. 441 and Florida’s Turnpike. Cabrera was arrested and charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer; felony fleeing & eluding; driving with a suspended license; and reckless driving.

Thomas Cabrera
Thomas Cabrera Florida Dept. of Corrections

In the car, police say they found several syringes and baggies.

The 38-year-old Pines resident had done eight months in prison for grand theft in 2014. A check of Broward County court records says his only brush with the law in Broward since then was a traffic ticket for failure to obey a traffic control device.

According to his police report, Cabrera told a detective after being read his rights that he left because he didn’t want to go to jail. He said he and his fiance were doing heroine and cocaine in the car before the officer woke him up, according the report.

“The Defendant displayed a clear intent by his actions to take the life of [Officer] Cusack who was in full uniform, operating a marked police unit, while attempting to flee from officers,” the detective wrote.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal