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Police and fire

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Moped rider leads slow police chase

For about an hour Friday night, a 40-year-old man put-putting along on a stolen moped led police officers on a circuitous, low-speed chase up, down and all around southeast Fort Wayne.

Sgt. Mark Brooks, a city police spokesman, said an officer initially stopped the man about 10:15 p.m. for driving the wrong way on Winter Street, near Eckart Street. He spoke with the officer but refused to turn off the moped and rode away, Brooks said.

A chase ensued with the moped driver, later identified as Lagrant Smith, reaching top speeds of 25 mph and taking numerous turns on a route that covered much of the southeast grid.

“He was just driving around,” Brooks said.

In some cases, police will call off a chase for public safety reasons, but because of the moped’s low speed and the limited amount of traffic, officers kept after Smith, Brooks said. Police will also sometimes use tire deflation devices to end a pursuit, but in cases of mopeds and motorcycles, such devices are not considered safe options, the sergeant said.

Smith sideswiped two vehicles during the chase, which, according to witnesses, involved more than 10 squad cars. And it wasn’t until 11:15 p.m. that he stopped driving in the 5300 block of South Anthony Boulevard, about 1 1/2 miles south of where the pursuit started. He ran from officers and was quickly caught by police who used a Taser to take him into custody. An officer suffered a minor leg injury in the foot chase, Brooks said.

Smith, of the 2400 block of Marcy Lane, was taken to a hospital to be checked out, which is standard procedure when police use a Taser. He was later booked into the Allen County Jail on charges of receiving stolen property, criminal recklessness, marijuana possession, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and two counts of resisting law enforcement. His bail was $8,250.

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