Published May 16. 2012 4:00PM Updated May 16. 2012 4:19PM
Norwich — One officer was nearly hit by a vehicle, and another officer shot out the back tire of the same vehicle during a wild police chase through the city early Wednesday that led to several charges against the vehicle’s two occupants.
Police said Michael Meriwether, 34, failed to stop for an officer trying to pull him over as Meriwether was leaving a convenience store in the Occum section of town. Police said Meriwether’s vehicle resembled one used in recent burglaries and larcenies around Norwich.
Meriwether continued onto Interstate 395, exited at Exit 82 in Norwichtown and continued to Wawecus Street and then Rogers Road, police said.
Twice during the chase, police said, Meriwether stopped as if to comply with the officer’s attempts to stop him, only to resume the chase once officers stepped out of their cruisers. Police said the first officer was joined by a backup officer and the patrol supervisor.
Police said Meriwether’s vehicle was unable to negotiate a turn at the intersection of Rogers Road and North Wawecus Hill Road and slid sideways in the roadway. Police gave commands over the cruiser’s PA system for Meriwether and his occupant, 24-year-old Autumn Bouchard, to stop the car and step out of the vehicle. Neither complied, police said.
Police said the two officers, whom police did not identify Wednesday, approached the vehicle on foot while the supervisor stayed in his car in case the vehicle resumed the chase. At that point, Meriwether drove the vehicle rapidly forward and backward in an attempt to escape, nearly hitting one of the officers. The other officer, concerned for the safety of his backup officer, shot the rear tire of the vehicle to try and disable it, police said.
Police said the vehicle fled again, traveling southbound on North Wawecus Hill Road, where it hit a mailbox and sustained a mechanical failure, which disabled the vehicle. Both vehicle occupants were taken into custody and Meriwether, of no certain address, was charged with engaging an officer in pursuit, reckless driving, second-degree reckless endangerment, interfering with an officer, failure to carry proper insurance, misuse of plates, operating an unregistered vehicle, possession of a stolen marker plate and failure to have a front plate.
Police said Meriwether also had two active arrest warrants from other towns: one from Willimantic for disorderly conduct and another from East Hartford for evading responsibility. Meriwether has an “extensive criminal history” with several arrests and convictions for burglary, police said.
Meriwether’s passenger, Bouchard, also of no certain address, was charged with possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Meriwether was held on $50,000 bond and Bouchard on $1,000 bond. Both are set to appear in Norwich Superior Court today, police said.
Police said no one was injured in the incident and that the New London County State’s Attorney’s Office was notified because an officer discharged his firearm during the incident.