The Houston Police Department on Thursday released a video of one of its officers jumping from a highway bridge to escape an erratic driver police believe was drunk.
Officer Roshad Carter was working a crash scene with other officers on U.S. 59 near Newcastle just before 3 a.m. on July 28 when they heard screeching tires behind them. Carter turned to face the headlights of a car speeding straight toward him.
"Next thing I know, I have an individual screaming," Carter said in a video interview posted online by the police department. "I turn around. Before I knew it, there was a car right up on me...I had less than a second to react to the situation."
With nowhere to run, Carter jumped over the side of the freeway as the car struck his leg. He fell 16 feet to the ground below, where he screamed in pain. The scene was captured by Carter's body camera, and Houston police released the video to the public on Thursday. At a news conference about the incident, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said he wanted to draw attention to how drunk drivers put police and the public in danger.
"One of the things that concerns us...Harris County, this region of the state, is the worst as it relates to the scourge of drinking and driving," Acevedo said.
In the video interview, Carter, from his hospital bed, said he warned his partner that evening to be careful because of the number of drunk drivers on the road at that hour.
He said that had he not jumped off the freeway, the car would have likely killed him. Carter did not realize how high he was above the ground.
"I just kept thinking to myself, when am I going to stop falling?"
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Carter narrowly missed landing on concrete, but was still knocked unconscious. When he came to, he could not feel his arms or legs. At the hospital, doctors discovered he had broken two bones in his back and injured his spinal cord. He also sprained both his ankles. Despite the severity of his injuries, Carter is expected to recover.
A seven-year veteran, he is assigned to the department's DWI task force.
Another officer at the scene, Carlos Herrera, also jumped off the freeway to avoid the car. Herrera sustained minor injuries and is back at work.
The driver of the car, 25-year-old Bianca Bennett, has been charged with intoxication assault, a felony. She has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond.