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Officer Says Thief Drove Truck As Weapon in Police Chase

September 24, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ Nine police officers were injured and 12 cars damaged in a wild chase after a stolen tractor-trailer containing $100,000 worth of machinery that the thief was driving ″as a weapon,″ police said.

Three police officers and a suspect were hospitalized for injuries suffered during the hour-long chase, in which four patrol cars, eight private cars and the stolen truck were damaged.

Joseph Rubinic, 33, of Chatham, N.Y., was charged with attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident, robbery and numerous other traffic violations, police spokesman Sgt. Raymond O’Donnell said Monday.

The chase began Monday afternoon in the borough of Queens when a man hopped into the cab of the tractor-trailer as merchandise was being unloaded and drove off, police said.

″It was just like ’Beverly Hills Cop,‴ said Officer John Parilla. ″He was popping the gears pretty good and it was always at full throttle. He was using the truck not as a vehicle but as a weapon.″

O’Donnell said the truck sideswiped some cars and two civilian witnesses gave chase in their car. They were joined by a police radio patrol car driven by officers Thomas Wallace and John O’Keefe.

The officers managed to get the truck to pull over, and Wallace walked up to the passenger side of the truck. Just as he was about to open the door, the suspect threw a heavy metal toolbox at him, O’Donnell said.

Then, with Wallace still hanging on, he took off and ran over the radio car.

Wallace sprayed the driver with Mace, but it had no effect.

Officers Dennis Matchel and John Belich joined in the chase in their patrol car, but the truck struck it, too.

Then Wallace, still clinging to the cab, fired one shot at the suspect, but missed.

The truck finally struck a utility pole, throwing Wallace onto the ground.

Rubinic was apprehended and taken to Woodhull Hospital, where he was being treated for injuries suffered during the chase.

Wallace and O’Keefe were taken to Bellevue Hospital, and Matchel was taken to Woodhull. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

The $100,000 worth of machinery was recovered in the truck, O’Donnell said.

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