The man who led police on a slow two-hour pursuit Wednesday afternoon on Interstate 30 from Fort Worth to Arlington, with a detour onto Arlington surface streets, had a “considerable amount of methamphetamine” in his car, police said late Wednesday.
The man, identified as Joe Ben Gonzales, 42, of Fort Worth, was wrestled to the ground by several SWAT officers, an arrest shown live on area TV stations.
TV helicopters followed the chase, providing clear images of a white four-door Nissan driving slowly on Interstate 30 with Fort Worth squad cars in pursuit.
Before 4 p.m., an armored police SWAT vehicle joined the pursuit. Near Six Flags Over Texas, the vehicle pulled up on the driver’s side of the Nissan and pushed it. The Nissan spun and hit a concrete divider before spinning back and appearing to hit the SWAT vehicle, stopping.
The shirtless Gonzales started to climb out the driver’s side rear window but was quickly surrounded by SWAT officers, who pushed him to the ground.
One SWAT officer hit Gonzales with the butt of his rifle, prompting discussion on social media.
One man tweeted, “Police chase in Fort Worth today ends with SWAT rifle butt to the nose of the perp. Excessive?”
‘No one wants to hurt you’
The chase started about 2 p.m. at the intersection East Belknap Street and Sylvania Avenue in Fort Worth when Zero Tolerance officers tried to make a stop during a drug investigation, said officer Daniel Segura, a Fort Worth police spokesman.
At that time, a woman was driving the Nissan, and got out of the car and complied with police, Segura wrote in a press release. Gonzales, who was a passenger, “jumped over the console into the driver’s side and accelerated, taking off in the vehicle and leaving the female behind,” he wrote.
Gonzales drove to Riverside Drive where he got on Interstate 30 westbound but soon got off and crossed the freeway, and got back on going eastbound on I-30.
Officers deployed a “stop stick” but that didn’t work, Segura wrote. They blocked entrance ramps to keep other motorists off the freeway. They learned that the man could be “possibly armed.”
“During the entire pursuit, FWPD units stayed with the suspect/vehicle,” Segura wrote.
The Gonzales spoke with a police negotiator on his cellphone. “Joe, no one wants to hurt you,” WFAA captured the negotiator saying.
In Arlington, Gonzales left the interstate and drove through busy intersections, through neighborhoods and even over curbs in the Lincoln Square parking lot.
He crossed grassy medians and drove the wrong way down an I-30 access road.
At 3:05 p.m., police called for MedStar to wait on standby, MedStar spokesman Matt Zavadsky said.
An hour later, the ambulance was summoned to take the driver to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth with minor injuries, Zavadsky said.
Officers seized more than 400 grams of meth from Gonzales’ car, acording to the news release. He faces a felony charge of evading arrest and a felony charge of possession of more than 400 grams of a controlled substance.
With eastbound traffic stopped, some motorists got out of their vehicles and climbed to the top of their cars to watch. Onlookers lined overpasses and the shoulder of the road to take photos. Fort Worth and Arlington police asked people to stay in their vehicles.
One man tweeted, “The slowest police chase in the world is happening right now.”
Another person said, “The chase was a complete waste of police time & resources which could of easily ended in 15 mins.”
Segura wrote that it is against department police to pass and block a fleeing vehicle.
“Pulling in front of the vehicle presents numerous issues such as crossfire, having your back to a potentially armed suspect, and the ability for the fleeing vehicle to strike and injure the person in the blocking car,” Segura wrote.
Some on social media questioned why the SWAT officer hit the man with his rifle butt when the man was under a swarm of officers.
“Was the rifle butt to the head necessary? Don’t get me wrong he should have not been messing up in the first place but come on,” one woman commented on the Star-Telegram’s Facebook page.
“All uses of force against any person are meticulously scrutinized to determine if the action was within departmental policy,” Segura wrote
A current booking photo of Gonzales was not available late Wednesday. The Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department provided a photo taken in December.
Court records show that Gonzales’ criminal history includes a 2008 aggravated robbery for which he served five years in prison. Another arrest, in 2001, was for unlawful carrying of a weapon.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792