BROOKHAVEN, Ga -- A car thief probably owes his life to the police officers who chased him down. Donald Jason Miles, age 28, is a career criminal according to police.Brookhaven Police rescued him from a burning car after he slammed head on into a utility pole.
Police released dramatic video from a police officer's dash cam that showed the car burst into flames moments after Miles was pulled from the vehicle.
On Saturday, March 8, 2014, a Brookhaven Police Officer noticed a suspicious vehicle with a stolen plate. When the officer tried to stop the car, it took off at a high rate of speed.
The police officer lost contact with the vehicle after it split between four vehicles and ran a red light. After about three miles the officer found the vehicle wrapped around a utility pole at Clairmont Avenue.
At first, the officer thought the suspect ran from the vehicle. It was filled with smoke and hard to see inside. But a short time later he realized the suspect was still inside, trapped in the wreckage.
The officer could also see flames. Other officers arrived and used batons to break the windows.
Eventually the officers pried open the passenger side door with their hands and dragged the suspect out of the car. Miles was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital where he was in serious condition.
Deputy Chief Ron Freeman said Miles wasn't the only living being in the car. "They also discovered that there was a dog that was injured, a small dog that was injured inside the car," he said. The dog was rescued from the smoke filled car and taken to a local animal hospital for treatment.
The officer's dash cam video show the car in flames shortly after Miles was rescued. "I think when you see the video that there's no question he was probably about 60 seconds from burning up in that car," he said.
Miles is charged with theft, fleeing and eluding police and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Police found a handgun and ammunition inside the burned car.