"The plan was just to get a car. Everything else was improv," Blake Bills, 24, said in a police statement put in evidence at his preliminary hearing Monday. "I wanted to be warm and mobile and I saw a police car."
Blake Bills, 24, and Shayna Sykes, 23, face trial after a Philadelphia judge upheld most of the Pennsylvania charges Monday stemming from the high-speed chase on March 5.
The couple told police they had been using heroin and cocaine and sleeping on the street in Camden, N.J., and were desperate to get warm. Bills spotted the idling cruiser and jumped in, he said. He then struck an officer who tried to intervene, breaking his leg, authorities said.
Both expressed remorse for the wild chase, which was caught on videotape and widely viewed online.
The other victims include a Philadelphia woman who fell and bumped her head as Sykes allegedly brushed by her in a speeding cruiser, and a delivery driver left with an injured shoulder when Sykes struck his box truck as he tried to move out of the way, prosecutors said.
The couple, who live in Macungie and have an infant together, had left home in a relative's car, which they said they abandoned in south Philadelphia. They said they later stole an unoccupied Nissan from a delivery driver, selling an iPhone, iPod and GPS left in the car to buy heroin. They abandoned that car in Camden when it broke down, according to their statements.
After stealing the cruiser, they heard radio reports that police feared they would hop on the bridge to Philadelphia, so they decided to do just that, the statements said.
Bills then allegedly drove 50-60 mph along narrow streets in north Philadelphia, Assistant District Attorney Guy D'Andrea argued, to support the aggravated assault, endangerment and other charges.
"He's flying through the streets. He's blowing red lights. He's hitting people's cars. He's hitting houses," D'Andrea said.
After Bills busted a window and blew out a tire on the Camden cruiser, the car was stopped and he was tackled after a brief chase, police said. But Sykes allegedly saw her moment and stole a Philadelphia cruiser.
"I thought, if he could outrun the police, I could pick him up," she allegedly told police later that day.
Sykes struck delivery driver Victor Overton's white box truck before her car caught fire and she was stopped, D'Andrea said.
After his arrest, Bills told police he was "dope sick," which, according to his lawyer, meant not that he was high but that he needed a fix. He said he used 20 to 30 packs a day of heroin and cocaine.
Nonetheless, Municipal Judge Frank T. Brady upheld driving-under-the-influence charges, along with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, vehicular theft and other charges. They remain in custody, awaiting a hearing next month to formally enter pleas.
In Camden, Bills faces even more serious charges that include attempted murder, assault by auto and carjacking, while Sykes faces conspiracy and joyriding charges. Police in Camden had at least one chance to arrest them earlier that week, when they were stopped with drugs in the car after buying heroin.
"I convinced Blake to drive away," Sykes told Philadelphia police two days later. "He's a great driver."