Metal Thieves Nearly Got Away From Asthmatic Dallas Cop -- But He Had Their Car Keys

At 4 a.m., an Officer Zane Murray with the Dallas Police Department spotted two men along Stemmons Freeway loading bridge-building materials -- $6,400 in large aluminum plates and overhang brackets belonging to Archer Western, a TxDOT contractor -- from a construction site into the bed of their 18-year old Dodge pickup.

Murray approached on foot and told the men, later identified by police as Raymond Earl Morgan, Jr., 32, and Michael Anthony Shelley, 33, to stop what they were doing and that they were under arrest. Instead, they dropped what they were doing and ran, Morgan north along Stemmons, Shelley into the pickup.

Shelley drove a half block and stopped the truck to let Morgan hop in. But Murray had kept close behind and managed to get to the driver's-side door first. Shelley realized this as the officer squirted pepper spray through the window, and he gunned his engine to get away. What he didn't realize, according to the police report, was that Morgan "had cut in front of Shelley's vehicle and was run over by [Shelley] in his panicked act of fleeing."

Morgan wasn't badly injured, hopping immediately to his feet and striking a fighter's pose. He refused orders to surrender and so Murray tackled him. It was as they struggled on the ground that Murray's asthma kicked in. It was a relatively mild attack, but enough that he had to back off, allowing Morgan to get briefly to his feet before Murray tacked him again.

At this point, Shelley returned in the truck, driving slowly toward them as they struggled on the ground. Murray unholstered his gun and aimed it at Shelley, who veered to the right at the last moment. He got out of the truck and demanded that Murray let his partner go.

Murray had different ideas, but Morgan had managed to free himself in the chaos and took off running. Shelley started to follow, then decided to get the truck only to find that Murray, whose worsening asthma had caused him to stay behind, had taken the keys.

"Just give me the keys!" Shelley screamed. He began taking the stolen metal from the pickup and placing it on the ground, a gesture that both cop and criminal could go their separate ways, no harm done. Realizing that Murray wasn't going to acquiesce, he turned and ran.

Murray's asthma kept him from following for more than a block, but both Shelley and Morgan were arrested within a few blocks by other officers. Both were taken to Dallas County jail on charges of theft and evading arrest.

Murray, one assumes, went and got his inhaler.