‘Unusually limber’ woman faces charges for escaping handcuffs during custody

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MONTROSE, Mo. — The prosecuting attorney in Henry County, Mo., announced he is filing charges against a 24-year-old woman for allegedly trying to run over officers after getting out of handcuffs and stealing a patrol car.

On April 6, a Henry County Deputy Sheriff was dispatched to the area of Montrose Wildlife area to investigate a suspicious vehicle. He determined the vehicle was stolen from Liberty, Mo, while the license plates were from Independence, Mo. He arrested Anthony Petalino, 46, of Montrose, Mo., and Joeanna West, 24, of Kansas City.

He put them in the patrol car, but police say West, who was ‘unusually limber,’ managed to work the handcuffs in front of her.

“She was actually handcuffed behind her back,”┬ásaid Maj. Rob Hills of the Henry County Sheriff’s office last month when FOX 4 first reported the story. “She was able to slip the cuffs up around her then moved up into the driver’s seat where at that point she commandeered the highway patrol car, striking our patrol car as she was trying to flee the scene┬ábut also trying to hit the officers that were on scene as well.”

Officials say the deputy and trooper were searching the stolen vehicle, and when they saw what was happening they moved toward the patrol car.

The woman, police say, surged the car toward the deputy, who then fired shots from his duty pistol.

No one was injured; only the highway patrol car was hit by bullets.

Richard Shields, the prosecuting attorney, investigated the April incident and shooting and determined the actions and use of force by the Henry County deputy sheriff were legally justified.

Petalino and West were both on parole from felony convictions in other counties.

Petalino, who remained handcuffed the entire time, was charged with operating the original stolen vehicle.

West, on the other hand, faces additional charges for allegedly trying to escape in the patrol car.

Charges against her include:

  • Assault on a law enforcement officer in the first degree
  • Escape from custody by means of a dangerous instrument
  • Stealing a motor vehicle
  • Stealing a firearm located int he patrol car
  • Felon in possession of a firearm

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