COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A cocaine-covered man intentionally rammed into multiple Chicago Police cars Tuesday after leading officers on a 60-mph daytime chase through residential streets, prosecutors said.
Neftali Centeno, 33, had been pulled over for drag racing in Back of the Yards about 12:05 p.m. Tuesday, court records show.
As an officer approached his 2005 Acura, Centeno accelerated and cut the wheel — causing the car to fishtail toward the officer, prosecutors said. The officer fired several shots, striking the Acura but missing Centeno.
Centeno sped off — running stop signs and red lights as he drove 50 to 60 mph in 30-mph zones — before police tried to box him in near 51st Street and St. Louis, according to authorities.
There, Centeno reversed into an unmarked police SUV and pushed the SUV into a marked squad car, prosecutors said. Centeno tried to escape, but crashed into a marked squad car.
When police arrested Centeno about 12:30 p.m., there was "white powder, suspect cocaine, all over his clothes and body," Assistant State's Attorney Todd Kleist said.
Officers also found a torn baggie with 2 grams of cocaine.
According to court records, Centeno has been wanted on a Cook County arrest warrant for nearly two years — ever since he missed a court appearance on Oct. 22, 2013.
In that case, Centeno faces 22 charges, ranging from illegal gun possession to manufacture and delivery of meth, marijuana and ecstasy. His bail was set at $100,000 during an initial bond hearing on Oct. 3, 2013, and Centeno hasn't appeared in court since.
But on Thursday, he was brought before Cook County Judge Laura Sullivan on a battery of fresh charges after Tuesday's chase.
The charges include attempted first-degree murder, eight counts of aggravated battery to a peace officer, aggravated fleeing, possession of a controlled substance, drag racing, speeding and driving on a suspended license.
Sullivan ordered Centeno held without bail.
According to court records, Tuesday's chase began near the 1800 block of West Garfield Boulevard, after police spotted Centeno and another car drag racing shortly after noon.
As one officer spoke with the second vehicle's driver, his partner walked toward Centeno, Kleist said. Centeno allegedly nodded toward the officer, but never fully stopped his car.
That's when Centeno hit the gas and yanked the wheel, causing the front end of his Acura to spin toward the officer, Kleist said. The officer jumped out of the way, pulled his gun and fired several shots before Centeno sped off. Kleist said the officer hit the Acura, but missed Centeno.
Several marked and unmarked cars began to chase Centeno, prosecutors said, as he drove 50 to 60 mph through residential streets. Centeno blew through several red lights and stop signs before he was eventually stopped by several Chicago Police cars in the 3500 block of West 51st Street, court records show.
According to Kleist, city surveillance cameras captured portions of the police chase and earlier drag race.
In all, nine police officers were injured, authorities said. The attempted first-degree murder charge is connected to the initial officer who fired shots at Centeno after jumping out of the way of his car. That officer suffered a back injury that needed hospital treatment, Kleist said.
The eight other officers, who are linked to the eight counts of aggravated battery to a peace officer, reported knee, back, leg and wrist injuries — as well as a concussion and head and body contusions, prosecutors said.
According to Centeno's public defender, Centeno is a construction worker.
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