Russell Keith Anthony McGruder added to a lengthy criminal résumé Monday when he was accused of stealing a police car, taking it for a ride and crashing inside the PortMiami tunnel with cops in pursuit.
The officer assigned to the car was on a special detail in downtown Miami to protect a visiting member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet when the drama unfolded.
Chased by another patrol car north on busy Biscayne Boulevard during the morning rush hour, McGruder turned east into the PortMiami tunnel before crashing into another patrol car and an 18-wheeler inside the tunnel, running, then spraying officers with an unknown substance as they closed in.
McGruder, who has been arrested more than 11 times the past five years, was cut and bruised. The officers and the truck driver were not injured. And the public remained safe — but frustrated — as Miami-Dade police shut down the port tunnel in both directions.
“He took out a can and used some kind of chemical spray,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta. “There was an altercation. He was taken into custody. The officers are OK.”
Interstate 395 and several connecting roads were gridlocked for several hours past 8:30 a.m. as drivers headed downtown and to Miami Beach to begin the workweek. The stolen cop car was on a special detail provided to Julián Castro, the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Castro was getting ready to give his keynote speech at the Miami Beach Convention Center for the eMerge Americas conference.