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Handcuffed suspect escapes from custody, leads police on chase through several towns

Vlad D. Palli of Richmond was handcuffed with his hands in front—for which Wiscasset Police Chief Larry Hesseltine later apologized
Credit: Wiscasset Police Department via Facebook
Vlad Palli, 23, of Richmond

WISCASSET, Maine — A Richmond man arrested by Wiscasset police for operating under the influence Sunday escaped from custody while handcuffed and fled in his car, eluding police from several agencies before he was caught behind his own home.

Vlad D. Palli, 23, was stopped on Main Street in Wiscasset by Wiscasset Police Chief Larry Hesseltine following reports that Palli was speeding in the breakdown lane on Route 1 in Edgecomb, Wiscasset police said in a release Monday.

Hesseltine charged Palli with OUI, operating without a license, and violating conditions of release, and handcuffed Palli, with his hands in front, before putting him in the back seat of his patrol car, according to the release.

"During the course of the incident Palli was removed from the police vehicle as it was suspected he tried to hide contraband down between the seat of the cruiser," police wrote. "While out of the vehicle and while Chief Hesseltine was retrieving an item under the rear seat of the cruiser Palli ran to his vehicle and fled."

The Lincoln County deputies tried to stop Palli in Dresden, chasing him towards Richmond until the pursuit was ended because speeds reportedly reached 100 miles per hour.

Richmond police then chased him briefly on Front Street before losing him, but then found Palli's car over an embankment, with Palli not in the car.

He was arrested behind his home in Richmond following a short foot chase by Richmond and Topsham officers and deputies from the Sagadahoc County Sheriff's Office.

Credit: Wiscasset Police Department via Facebook
Vlad Palli, 23, of Richmond

In addition to charges by Wiscasset police, the Lincoln County deputies charged Palli with eluding and violating conditions of release.

He was taken to Two Bridges Regional Jail, where an intoxilyzer test conducted approximately four hours after the initial stop in Wiscasset allegedly showed a blood alcohol level of .08, according to the release.

On Monday, Hesseltine posted a message on the Wiscasset Maine Police Department Facebook page:

"During this incident I chose to place the handcuffs in the front of the individual I arrested for an alcohol related offense," he wrote. "I have done this many times over the years and earned the respect of many people I have dealt with. This incident didn’t feel any different than any of the other hundreds of OUI arrests I have made over the past 33 years as a police officer. However, I became distracted for a brief moment and the suspect took full advantage of his opportunity to escape."

Hesseltine said, "I know how uncomfortable it is to sit with the handcuffs behind your back," and said he has received complaints from members of the public that they were treated poorly during an arrest.

"This happened plain and simple because I did not follow my training and handcuff the suspect behind his back," he wrote. "Doing so would have eliminated the chance of escape and would not have put the public or the officers in Richmond at risk.

"So, I sit here embarrassed but thankful. I am ready for the ridicule I’ll take from my colleagues for this happening. This incident will definitely change my course of action for future incidents. I have replayed this incident numerous times in my head on how I could have done things differently and I’m sure I will continue to second guess my actions for a long time to come."