Police in East Texas who responded to a call about a suspected shoplifter never dreamed they would soon be chasing their own vehicle down the highway at speeds over 100 mph.
Toscha Fay Sponsler was arrested for shoplifting outside an Ulta store in Lufkin, Texas around 6 p.m. on Sept. 2.
Lufkin police handcuffed the 33-year-old Pollok, Texas, resident and put her in the back of a patrol car while they searched her handbag and knapsack.
Sponsler knew that the search would turn up what the police later called a “felony amount of methamphetamine.” Rather than wait around, the slim, 5-foot, 2-inch Sponsler slipped her hands out of the handcuffs, squeezed her way around the partition separating the front and back seats, and slid behind the wheel of the police vehicle.
While the police carried out their search, Sponsler tried to make her escape. She sped out of the parking lot, nearly running over an officer, and led police on a 23-minute chase south on Highway 69, hitting speeds of over 100 mph. She was finally apprehended when officers performed a pursuit intervention technique (PIT) maneuver, ramming the car’s rear fender so that it spun out of control and came to a stop wedged against a tree.
Her entire escape attempt was captured on the police car’s dash camera. Dash-cam footage shows Sponsler trying to unlock the shotgun attached to the car; she was unable to defeat the lock.
Whatever wasn’t recorded by the dash-cam was captured by officers’ body-cameras.
Sponsler is currently in the Angelina County jail, facing five felony charges: escape with the threat of a deadly weapon, aggravated assault against a public servant, possession of a controlled substance, evading arrest with a previous conviction, and unauthorized use of a vehicle.
Sponsler had been arrested on July 9 and charged with possession, criminal trespass, theft, and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was also arrested on Feb. 9, 2015, for unauthorized use of a vehicle, and credit- or debit card abuse.