Driver of stolen car jumps into Chicago River to escape cops, gets rescued by CFD, police say

A Hickory Hills man sped away from cops on the Mag Mile in a stolen car Saturday morning, crashed, and then tried to escape from police by swimming across the icy Chicago River, according to a CPD report.

“But for the actions of the Chicago Fire Department, he probably would have drowned in the cold water,” Judge Charles Beach said during a bond court hearing Sunday.

Omar Al-Shamali, 22, is charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Omar Al-Shamali allegedly dove into the Chicago River near the 1000 block of North Crosby to escape from police. | CPD; Multiplottr

Police said they tried to stop a car for a minor traffic violation on the 800 block of North Michigan around 9:30 a.m. But the driver sped away, struck another car, sped west on Chicago Avenue, and eventually out-distanced officers who were following it, prosecutors said.

CPD officers continued to track the stolen car via the city’s sprawling surveillance camera network until it crashed into an embankment just east of Goose Island.

Prosecutors said Al-Shamali jumped out of the crashed car, hopped into the nearby Chicago River, and tried to swim across. Police called in the fire department and marine units to pluck Al-Shamali from the frigid waters.

According to police, the owner of the stolen car left it running while she ran into a grocery store recently. It was gone when she came back out. Cops said they found the keys and a prescription bottle bearing Al-Shamali’s name inside the crashed car. A BB-gun pistol was in a holster on the back seat.

Al-Shamali spoke up during his bond court hearing to say the BB-gun wasn’t his, it just happened to be on the back seat.

“Sir, I don’t need any help, thank you,” his assistant public defender, Courtney Smallwood, cautioned.

After being advised of his right to remain silent, Al-Shamali told officers, “Why don’t you shut the f*ck up?” But he didn’t offer any further insights, according to prosecutors.

Judge Beach set bail his bail at $5,000. Al-Shamali will need to post $500 to get out of jail before trial.

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