Man Involved In Tow Truck Chase Had Psychotic Episode, Lawyer Claims

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD — The man accused of stealing a Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration tow truck was having a "psychotic episode" when he led police on a chase through Prince George's and Montgomery counties last month, according to a report citing the man's lawyer.

Flavio Cesar Lanuza, 27, is facing several charges in both counties in connection with the Feb. 16 incident. On Thursday, Judge Holly D. Reed III called the incident "one of the most extreme dangers I've seen in this community, maybe ever," WTOP reported.


According to police, the incident unfolded shortly before 5 p.m. when Maryland State Police were called to a four-vehicle hit-and-run at the inner loop of Interstate 495 near the Greenbelt Metro Station.

According to a preliminary investigation, Lanuza drove into the I-495/I-95 Park and Ride lot where his car went off the road and hit a guard rail.

Lanuza was eventually captured around 6:30 p.m. after the tow truck broke down in the 10700 block of Columbia Pike in Silver Spring.

While arguing for Lanuza's release, defense attorney Maria Mena said Lanuza was having a psychotic episode at the time of the chase, WTOP reported. His family also noticed he was acting strange in the week leading up to the incident.

Mena asked the judge to grant Lanuza a mental health evaluation; however, the judge told her to submit the request at a different time, according to WTOP.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 22.


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