A quick-thinking Lyft driver hit the emergency brake after a drunken passenger with a history of assaults got behind the wheel, said police who chased down the thief.
The driver told police he’d picked up Cesar Mesa, 64, of from Hackensack and took him to an address on West Linden Avenue in Englewood shortly before 4 a.m. Saturday, Englewood Deputy Police Chief Gregory Halstead said.
When they got there, Halstead said, a heavily intoxicated Mesa refused to get out while arguing with him, the driver told police.
The driver said he opened a door to the back seat of his Toyota Camry, shoved Mesa out, then checked to see whether he’d left any belongings behind.
While he wasn’t looking, Mesa got into the driver’s seat, Halstead said.
The Lyft driver hit the emergency brake as Mesa pulled away, then began running after the car, which wasn’t moving very fast, the deputy chief said.
Responding Officer Julio Alvarado saw the Camry approaching westbound Route 4 and tried to stop it, Halstead said.
Mesa – who has a history of aggravated assault arrests, including against police officers – kept driving before pulling into an Exxon station, the deputy chief said.
Officer Christopher Formisano and Alvarado had to pull Mesa from the vehicle before arresting him, he said.
They charged Mesa with theft and eluding.
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