Car theft suspect rams police car, pins and hurts officer

A suspect trying to flee a pursuing police officer rammed the cop's car this morning with a stolen pickup truck, pinning the officer briefly and injuring him, authorities said.

The suspect, Russell Smith, 38, of Modesto, drove off but crashed into a tree and was taken into custody, according to Sgt. Rick Armendariz of the Modesto Police Department.

Officers received a call at 4:19 a.m. after a man reported that his 2001 GMC pickup, which he left running in his driveway, had been stolen.

A few minutes later, the pickup was spotted near Briggsmore Avenue and North Carpenter Road, Armendariz said.

The officer began pursuing the pickup, which headed south on North 9th Street, then turned on to Carver Road, eventually ending up at Randazzo Court just southwest of the Briggsmore and Carver intersections.

The pickup came to a stop and the officer thought the suspect was going to make a run for it. As the officer was getting out of the patrol car, Smith allegedly drove his car into the door of the squad car, temporarily pinning the officer, Armendariz said.

Smith sped off but seconds later hit a tree. Smith was arrested on suspicion of auto theft, assaulting an officer, evading police, hit-and-run and drug possession, Armendariz said.

The officer was treated at a hospital for minor injuries at was released.