Court appearance postponed: Man accused of leading police on 30-mile chase in stolen Md. highway truck remains hospitalized

(Courtesy 7News)

Arrest warrants reveal new details about what happened after police say a Maryland man stole a tow truck, rammed several vehicles and led authorities on a nearly 30-mile chase earlier this month.

Flavio Cesar Lanuza, 27, of Laurel, remains hospitalized Tuesday at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore following his arrest on Feb. 16, where he was first taken to Suburban Hospital Center in Bethesda.

Lanuza is facing charges of felony assault, resisting arrest and destruction of property, among others, in Montgomery County. He was scheduled for an initial court appearance on Tuesday, but it is not clear why it was postponed.

In Prince George’s County, Lanuza is facing charges of stealing a state vehicle, driving without the required license and driving under the influence, among others.

Prince George’s County officers said in the arrest warrant that they could smell alcohol on Lanuza and that when he was taken to the hospital, he admitted consuming alcohol. Police also said that they found open containers in Lanuza’s vehicle from an earlier crash that sparked the theft and pursuit of the tow truck.

Court documents said that Lanuza did not heed commands to surrender, which required officers to break the truck’s windows. Even then, Lanuza resisted, “hiding his hands under his body, and using his strength to avoid being handcuffed,” court documents said.

Court documents said that at least four Montgomery County police officers took Lanuza into custody after a brief struggle.

State police believe the chase started when four vehicles were struck in a hit-and-run on the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway shortly before 5 p.m.

One of the drivers in the crash fled the scene and drove to a park-and-ride-lot before going off the road and striking a guard rail.

A State Highway Administration Chart vehicle responded to the scene and checked on the driver. That’s when Maryland State Police said Lanuza got out of his vehicle and stole the tow truck.

Prince George’s County court documents said he struck a total of 13 cars during the pursuit, including a Maryland State Police cruiser, pushing it a distance of more than 50 feet. The impact resulted in a trooper being taken to the hospital for injuries, Montgomery County court documents said. He also struck several low-hanging power lines during his attempt to evade capture.

WTOP has reached out to Lanuza’s lawyer for comment.

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Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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