-- A Texas woman led police officers on a high-speed chase Saturday after slipping out of her handcuffs and driving off in a patrol vehicle, all of which was caught on camera.
Officers from the Lufkin Police Department responded to a 911 call about a possible shoplifter at an Ulta Beauty store on Saturday afternoon. The officers chased down the suspect, 33-year-old Toscha Sponsler of Pollok, and placed her in a patrol vehicle with a seat belt and her hands cuffed behind her back, police said.
While the officers went through the woman's bags of allegedly stolen goods in the store's parking lot, a camera inside the patrol vehicle captured Sponsler removing her seat belt, slipping out of the handcuffs and climbing through a window partition into the driver's seat.
Sponsler took off and led police on a 23-minute pursuit, nearly hitting authorities with the patrol vehicle and reaching speeds up to 100 mph. Throughout the chase, officers could see the woman reaching for the shotgun that was mechanically locked to the car, police said.
The pursuit ultimately ended miles away in Zavalla after a state trooper used a pursuit intervention technique maneuver that made Sponsler lose control of the patrol vehicle. Sponsler waived medical treatment at the scene and was taken to the Angelina County Jail, where she is being held on a collective $18,000 bond, police said.
Cameras from inside the stolen patrol vehicle and on the dashboard as well as police body cameras captured the incident. The Lufkin Police Department posted a mashup of the video footage on Facebook. The video ended showing an officer giving the thumbs up as he installed a "tactical window limitation device," which police said have now been installed in all marked units.
Lufkin Police Department Assistant Chief David Thomas said an internal review of the incident is ongoing.
"During the initial review we determined that limiting the size of the partition window in its open position could prevent this from occurring in the future if the locking mechanism fails or is not engaged," Thomas said in a statement Tuesday.
Sponsler is facing charges of escape causing serious bodily injury/threat of a deadly weapon, aggravated assault against a public servant, possession of a controlled substance, evading arrest with a vehicle with a previous conviction and unauthorized use of a vehicle. She has a court-appointed attorney and had not yet entered a plea as of Wednesday, according to the Angelina County District Attorney's Office.