DALTON — For months, Dalton Police had been watching for a woman with town roots who had failed to show for a court appearance in Florida. At nearly high noon Wednesday, there was Meghan Martin, on Main Street.
Bringing her in proved a challenge. Dalton Police say Martin, 30, fled after commandeering a companion’s car, drove into Pittsfield, collided with a Dalton cruiser, and ran into a swamp near Brattle Brook.
Dalton Police, aided by Pittsfield Police and state troopers, caught up with her off McIntosh Drive, about a five-minute drive from where she had taken flight.
Two officers, Sgt. Bustin Buzzella and Officer Tyler Miller, received minor injuries — and Buzzella’s cruiser had to be towed.
“Just good police work, start to finish,” Police Chief Deanna Strout said Thursday. “We have been watching for her and have been trying to get her for some time.”
Martin was being held pending extradition to Florida, where she was arrested two years ago, after police in Pinellas County said she stole $9,000 from an elderly woman by fraudulently using her debit card.
The Dalton incident began just before noon, when Buzzella saw Martin near the Union Block on Main Street. Buzzella was responding to a report from the town’s senior center, a few blocks away, of a suspicious vehicle.
While Miller spoke with the driver of that car, after it was stopped on Main Street, Martin jumped from the front passenger seat into the driver’s seat and hit the gas, according to Strout. Buzzella reached for Martin.
“He was pulled forward by the vehicle but was able to push himself off,” Strout said, but not without being injured in the process.
Police caught up with Martin at East and Baldwin streets in Pittsfield, where the car Martin was driving hit Buzzella’s cruiser, damaging a tire and strut.
Strout said Martin abandoned the car and ran. In the short foot pursuit, neighbors in the area helped direct police.
“They found her hiding behind a house. She popped up and they chased her,” Strout said of the officers involved.
Later on Wednesday, Dalton Police hit Martin with a rash of charges, including failure to stop for police, operating to endanger, leaving the scene of a property-damage accident (the cruiser), assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (the car), assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest and being a fugitive from justice on a court warrant.
According to a report from a Florida news outlet, Martin had been living in Clearwater when she was accused of making dozens of improper debit card transactions, taking money from an elderly woman’s account without her knowledge or permission.
Affidavits in the case contend that from December 2018 to March 2019, Martin used the woman’s card to withdraw money, in amounts ranging from $60 to $800. The victim of the alleged theft initially was unaware that the money was missing, Florida police said.
The Florida warrant calls for Martin’s extradition to Pinellas County.
The man who was in the car with Martin is expected to receive a citation for driving under a suspended license, Strout said.
Miller was back at work Thursday. Strout said it was unclear how long Buzzella’s injury will keep him out.
“In the end, the cruiser can be repaired,” the chief said.