2007-09-19 / Front Page

Driver in handcuffs wrecks stolen police car in Jenkins

This Norton, Va., city police cruiser was stolen and later wrecked near Jenkins. This Norton, Va., city police cruiser was stolen and later wrecked near Jenkins. A man wearing handcuffs and driving a stolen police car led authorities on a high-speed chase through two counties in two states before he wrecked near Jenkins.

The chase began Sunday in Virginia after police there arrested 55- year-old Willie Lee Little of Shelby Gap on drug charges after narcotics were found in his vehicle during a traffic stop.

After Little was handcuffed with his hands behind his back and placed in the passenger's seat of an unmarked 2005 Ford Crown Victoria car belonging to the Norton Police Department, he was able "some way" to get his hands in front of him and drive the car off.

"He was seat-belted with the cuffs behind him. Some way he got the cuffs in front of him," said Norton Police Captain James Lane. The car was not equipped with a cage separating the front from the back seat.

Lane said that after Little stole the car he drove from Wise County, Va., toward Letcher County on U.S. Highway 23 at speeds as high as 130 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, Kentucky State Police Trooper Randy Surber was waiting at the Kentucky-Virginia state line. Surber deployed "tire stingers" that Little ran over in the police car, causing both of the passenger side tires to go flat. Police say Little then tried to hit Surber with the cruiser, but was unsuccessful and kept on driving north on U.S. 23, where he was met by Jenkins City Police officers who deployed their own tire stingers and caused the cruiser's driver's side tires to go flat. Little soon lost control of the vehicle and wrecked.

Little was arrested by Surber and charged with attempted murder, wanton endangerment, and fleeing/evading in a motor vehicle. The Virginia State Police have charged Little with possession of Schedule I and Schedule II narcotics.

Lane said Little was also charged with driving without a license, running a traffic light, not wearing a seat-belt, eluding police, and reckless driving.

A parole violation warrant was issued for Little on August 17, saying he violated his parole for "absconding" parole supervision; failure to report to parole officer as directed; changing address without approval of parole officer; failure to pay supervision fee as directed; possession of marijuana; possession of cocaine, and possession of Xanax.

The parole violation warrant said Little had been convicted in the Pike County Circuit Court of carrying a concealed deadly weapon and murder. He was paroled on June 29, 2006.

Little is currently being held in the Letcher County Jail awaiting extradition to Virginia.

The Letcher County Sheriff's Department also helped in the pursuit of Little. The case is still under investigation by Surber.

The City of Norton Police Department, the Wise County Sheriff's Office, and the Virginia State Police conducted the traffic stop during which Little was first arrested on Sunday.

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