BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — First came the 911 calls.
"I am on I-95 and Woolbright and this guy next to us, in the next car is pointing stuff at us and it's getting really scary," said the first caller. Then: "Oh my God . . . he just ran us off the road."
Another caller saw the same white Ford station wagon with wood paneling run the first car off the road. Then she saw him exit Interstate 95. "Oh my God, he almost hit us," she said. "He slammed on his brakes and almost hit us."
With that, police were alerted Monday to driver Michael Timmins, 48, of Delray Beach, who led them back onto I-95 in an erratic chase that ended only after he struck a car and two cruisers and did a U-turn to end up going the wrong way on the interstate, police said Tuesday.
Some of those next scenes were captured on video by dashboard cameras in two police cars.
Moments after the 911 calls, someone flagged down a police cruiser with a similar description and another cruiser spotted the Ford on North Seacrest Boulevard, heading south.
By the time Timmins turned onto Boynton Beach Boulevard, four cruisers were behind him, their lights flashing. But he didn't stop. Instead, he headed toward I-95, making an obscene gesture at police, according to an arrest report.
They followed the erratic driver onto the entrance ramp, where he rammed a Mercedes, pushing it more than 50 feet.
Until that moment, a sergeant stood at the on-ramp prepared to deploy Stop Sticks. But the Ford hadn't hit anyone in front of the cruisers yet, Maj. Frank Briganti said.
"We have to weigh the risks to the public in pursuing somebody, as compared to the risks to the public if you let the guy go," Briganti said at a news conference Tuesday. "And a decision was made if he gets on 95, we are not going to Stop-Stick him, we are not going to pursue him. Imagine this guy driving with blown-out tires on I-95, the danger he could be.
"So as soon as they make that decision, he goes past the Stop Sticks point . . . and he intentionally rams into the back of a car," Briganti added. "A whole 'nother ball game. Now the sergeant is saying, if we don't stop this guy, he's creating a bigger risk to the public as a free person than the risk we are creating."
The videos capture the rest. Four cruisers fan out behind the Ford on I-95. The Ford hits the brakes and rams one of the cruisers as it pulls up alongside. Then he speeds up and again slams the brakes and intentionally smacks the cruiser.
Officers suffered minor injuries, one to the neck, another to his knee.
Timmins was trapped, but not subdued. Police had to fight him to place him in handcuffs, the report said. He was taken to Bethesda Memorial Hospital for treatment of his scratches, and then to county jail, where he was booked on charges of fleeing and eluding police, resisting arrest, leaving the scene, reckless driving and one count of possession of marijuana, which police said fell out of his pocket during the struggle.
Dianna Cahn can be reached at [email protected] or 561-243-6645.