SUMMERVILLE -- A Moncks Corner man accused of assaulting a police officer Friday, then stealing and wrecking his squad car, has been out of prison for less than a month, according to state records.
Arthur Lee Thompson, 38, of Coaxum Road, also has fought with police before, according to his criminal record. He was in a hospital Friday night. The chain of events that put him there allegedly began with an attempt to walk out of a store with a computer without paying for it, police said.
About 1:20 p.m., officers responded to the Walmart on North Main Street for a shoplifter who had assaulted an employee, police Capt. Jon Rogers said. Thompson tried to walk out with a computer in a shopping cart, Rogers said. When a store employee confronted Thompson, he assaulted the employee and took off, leaving the computer behind, Rogers said.
A description of Thompson's vehicle was broadcast over the police radio, and an officer spotted it and pulled it over on Cedar Street near 9th Avenue, Rogers said. Thompson got out of his vehicle, assaulted the officer, then climbed into the officer's marked patrol car and sped away.
With other police cars in pursuit, Thompson got about three miles away from the traffic stop, Rogers said.
He tried to pass a landscaping truck on North Maple Street near Elks Lodge Lane. The truck was trying to make a left turn. The squad car struck the truck and then rammed a fence, said S.C. Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Bob Beres. The area was a "no passing" zone, indicated by a double-yellow line on the highway.
The driver of the landscaping truck and a passenger were taken to Summerville Medical Center, where they were treated and released, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Thompson was transported to Medical University Hospital, Rogers said. A hospital spokeswoman said the hospital had no information about Thompson.
Neither the police officer nor the Walmart employee had serious injuries in the assaults, Rogers said.
Rogers said Thompson is being charged with strong-arm robbery in connection with the shoplifting incident. "Once the employee was assaulted, it rose from shoplifting to strong-arm robbery," Rogers said.
Thompson also is being charged with assault on a police officer while resisting arrest, grand larceny, failure to stop for blue lights and siren, and felony possession of a firearm. The weapons charge stems from there having been a police weapon in the stolen squad car, Rogers said.
Additionally, the Highway Patrol has charged Thompson with reckless driving, Beres said.
According to a criminal background check with the State Law Enforcement Division, Thompson has a seven-page rap sheet that starts with a burglary conviction in 1993. He was sent to prison then and has been in and out of prison several times since. His record also includes convictions for armed robbery, assault on police officers, shoplifting and resisting arrest.
Thompson was last sent to prison in March 2010 after getting a five-year concurrent sentence for two counts of assault on a police officer, one count of purse snatching, and one count of strong-arm robbery.
His early release included time he'd spent awaiting trial since his arrest in August 2008.
According to a Web search of the state's Victim Information Network, Thompson was scheduled for release from prison May 1.