Fleet-footed wanted man escapes arrest as he leaves church

Sunday, November 22, 2009 | 4:20 p.m. CST; updated 6:35 p.m. CST, Sunday, November 22, 2009

COLUMBIA — The Lord couldn't save Courtney Rainey from the law's attention.

Rainey, 23, had just left Sunday church services in Oak Tower with his girlfriend and her infant daughter, Oak Tower resident Jesse E. Thomas said. It was a beautiful November afternoon, a little warm, the ground covered with leaves.

At 1:45 p.m., things were peaceful.

At 1:46 p.m., Officer Tim Giger pulled up behind Rainey's car at the intersection of Sexton Road and Garth Avenue just outside Oak Tower.

Giger hit his flashers.

Rainey was in a bit of trouble. On Nov. 16, prosecutors had filed a warrant for his arrest on a felony forgery charge.

Rainey rolled to a stop within about half a block, witnesses said. Giger said he started pulling up alongside the beat-up, white-and-blue Buick LeSabre because he wanted to make sure Rainey didn't get out of the car.

Rainey got out of the car anyway, witnesses said.

Rainey swung open his door right into Giger's approaching front bumper, punching a crater into Giger's fender and crunching the end of Rainey's door like an aluminum can.

The collision made a "boom," said Dorothy Thomas, who was stopped in her van about 20 feet in front of Rainey when the incident happened. Thomas was driving home from work at a laundromat, and Giger had pulled Rainey over in front of her driveway.

Giger said Rainey then fled — leaving his girlfriend and her baby — and sprinted toward Oak Tower.

Giger could be heard calling out the foot chase over the police scanner, saying between gasps for breath that Rainey was wearing a brown hoodie or jacket and had on a pair of jeans. There was a pause before Giger called in again.

"He's, uh, real fast," Giger said.

Around half a dozen Columbia police cruisers soon showed up, and the officers swarmed Oak Tower. Over the scanner, officers suggested doing a floor-by-floor search. But residents told them Rainey was already long gone; he had run in one way and out the other.

Shortly after 2 p.m., Oak Tower residents were lounging around the pavilion, smoking and watching as the cops orbited Rainey's abandoned car, filling out reports, taking pictures.

The LeSabre had three hubcabs and only one license plate — Rainey had gotten a citation for the latter on Oct. 6. The taillights were broken, and the rear bumper crunched.

Giger said he knew Rainey from previous encounters; he was a "repeat customer." Now, Rainey could face two charges of resisting arrest — one for getting out of his car, and one for running away — plus charges of child endangerment and property damage.

How did Rainey get away?

"He weighs 130 pounds," Giger said in an interview with a Missourian reporter. "I weigh 250. I couldn't chase him down."

That small, huh?

"He makes you look like Hulk Hogan," Giger said to the reporter, who weighs 190 pounds. "And unless you need anything else, I'm gonna go catch my breath. I think I found it somewhere."

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