Maine man charged with stealing, crashing 2 police cars held without bail

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A man charged with crashing two law enforcement vehicles during a police chase that concluded with gunfire from 11 officers should be held without bail until his trial, prosecutors said Monday.

Gary Porter of Maine had been arrested on a warrant for theft on May 6 when he escaped police custody and set off a chaotic series of events in rural Paris, police said. Porter, wearing handcuffs and a hospital gown, stole a police vehicle, crashed it, then stole another before crashing that one and being returned to custody after an exchange of gunfire, police said.

Porter made his first appearance in court Monday after a series of delays. A judge ruled that probable cause has been established in the case and that Porter will remain in jail pending a June 4 hearing about revoking bail.

The decision is appropriate because of the “incredibly serious and reckless nature of these charges,” Assistant District Attorney Richard Beauchesne said in court. He said Porter's actions posed risk to “all of the law enforcement officers that engaged in the chase.”

Porter appeared in court on Monday via Zoom and spoke only briefly to address the judge.

He has yet to enter a plea, has not yet been indicted and needs to complete a competency test before a plea can be entered, said his attorney, Justin Leary. After the court appearance, Leary said he is still gathering information about the case.

“Over time the public will get all the factual information," Leary said.

The May 6 chase began after Porter was found passed out in a chicken coop, police have said. A local police chief was taking him to jail when he slipped his handcuffs from behind his back, moved into the driver's seat and drove off, police said.

Law enforcement rolled out spiked mats to blow the stolen cruiser's tires. A bystander's video then captured some of the ensuing gunfire. Shots ring out in the video as Porter climbs into a second police vehicle and takes off again before crashing a second time.

Police said Porter was shot once in the exchange of gunfire and treated at a hospital.