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Driver pins officer against tree, runs over his leg: cops

Joshua Gemmell

A Joliet man pinned a police officer between the back of his car and a tree before running over his leg as he sped away, Joliet police said.

The officer was investigating a report of a suspicious man checking out parked cars shortly before 11:30 p.m. Wednesday on North Broadway Street between Ingalls and Smith avenues, police said. The officers spotted a vehicle parked on the parkway and the sidewalk.

A man later identified as 33-year-old Joshua Gemmell was behind the wheel, police said, and an “elderly female” was in the passenger seat.

“The vehicle then abruptly pulled forward into a business parking lot,” police said, and officers “approached the vehicle on foot and gave commands for the occupants to exit the vehicle, to which they refused.”

Joshua Gemmell

An officer pulled open the driver’s side door, and “Gemmell suddenly accelerated the vehicle in reverse, pinning an officer between the vehicle and a tree,” police said. “Gemmell placed the vehicle in drive in an effort to flee and ran over the leg of the pinned officer with a front tire.”

Gemmell then took off, heading south on Broadway Street, police said.

While searching for Gemmell, officers learned he crashed into a house on Hutchins Street between Summit and Elizabeth streets, police said.

“Officers converged on the Hutchins Street location and located Gemmell nearby,” police said. Gemmell tried to make a run for it but was hit with a stun gun and captured.

“Methamphetamine was recovered upon search of Gemmell,” police said.

Gemmell’s 70-year-old mother was in the car when he crashed into the house, police said.

She was transported to Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet hospital, where she was treated for her injuries and released from care.

The injured officer was taken to Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, where he also was treated and released.

Gemmell and another man, 48-year-old Vernell Butler, robbed the Merchants and Manufacturers Bank at 990 Essington Road in August 2014, making off with more than $13,000.

Vernell Butler

Gemmell and Butler didn’t get far, as police chased them into a Cora Street alley where they ditched their getaway car. The pair made a run for it but were found hiding in a Vine Street yard.

Both pleaded guilty to bank robbery and were sentenced to federal prison. Gemmell was released in April 2016, Federal Bureau of Prisons records show.

Butler also no longer is in custody, according to Bureau of Prisons records, but his release date was “unknown.”

Gemmell was arrested Wednesday night on probable cause of criminal damage to property, resisting a police officer, aggravated driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance and aggravated battery, records show.