NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio (WJW)-- A North Olmsted police officer, who was run down by an SUV while trying to stop two shoplifting suspects at Great Northern Mall on Feb. 13, is sharing his story with FOX 8 News.
Patrolman Bob Briesath suffered a concussion, and injuries to his leg, back and shoulder. The 30-year veteran was working off-duty at the Dillard's store at Great Northern and was alerted that a woman was shoplifting. When Officer Briesath chased her out of the store, she jumped into a waiting SUV and the getaway driver barreled right into the 55-year-old patrolman.
"The next thing I know, I was doing cartwheels through the air or something like that. I'm not sure exactly how all that happened, but I did have my body armor on, so that helped a lot," Briesath said.
After an all-points bulletin was issued, local police departments began to search for the SUV. Two days later, a Parma police officer spotted the vehicle in a neighborhood. But the suspects decided to run and the pursuit continued all the way into The Flats in Cleveland. The suspects slipped away after the officer decided to terminate the chase out of concern that they would hurt or kill an innocent person.
"They have no concern, nor care in the world for anybody else but them. They don't care what they do to anybody,” Briesath said.
The coordinated dragnet by police agencies across Greater Cleveland eventually led North Olmsted police to an apartment building on Cleveland's west side, where they found the SUV hidden behind the building. While detectives were keeping an eye on the vehicle, the getaway driver, 25-year-old Jamal Sanham, walked outside the apartment and was arrested. A short time later, his shoplifting partner, 30-year-old Kristalyn Marcum, was taken into custody.
The pair now face charges of felonious assault on a police officer and theft, in connection with shoplifting reported at malls across Greater Cleveland.
"If this individual or these individuals were not captured, something definitely would have happened down the road. Somebody would have been seriously hurt,” said North Olmsted Detective Bill Saringer.
Fox 8 News was there as Briesath and his wife arrived at the North Olmsted Police Department on Wednesday to thank his fellow officers for coming to his aid the night he was struck. He also wanted to express his gratitude for their efforts to capture Sanham and Marcum. After shaking hands with Detective Saringer, Briesath said, "Appreciate the job you all did on getting these guys. It was reassuring, it really was.”
Briesath is scheduled to return to work on Monday and plans to retire in October after 30 years of service.