PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – Pembroke Pines police Officer Jon Cusack got into the line of work 19 years ago to help others. He said he was trying to help two people who were passed out inside a car last month at Century Village, but he never imagined what would happen next.
Body camera footage shows Cusack being dragged for more than a half-mile by a man who police said admitted to being on drugs.
Cusack said he first tried to stop the driver from getting on the road and hurting anyone else. Then he had to hang on to save his own life.
"I can tell you that I was afraid. You know, I was scared," he said. "I can't say that -- not to sound macho or anything -- I can't say that too many times in my career that I've really felt that, and this was definitely one of those times."
Cusack is back at work, but is working light duty as he continues to recover.
He said he is thankful for the support he's received from the community and his law enforcement family, whom he credits for helping him through the tough time.
"Serving the community and helping people is honestly something that I really enjoy, and this incident isn't going to change what I do and how I do it," Cusack said. "It's only going to, I think, make me stronger."
Authorities said Cusack suffered severe road rash in the incident that happened the morning of Dec. 19 after Cusack responded to a possible overdose in a car at Century Village.
Police said a security guard in the neighborhood called authorities after spotting a man and a woman who were unconscious in the car. A clear baggie containing an unknown substance could also be seen inside the car, authorities said.
Police said the driver, Thomas Cabrera, 38, placed the car into drive when Cusack woke him up and tried to leave the scene.
Cusack reached into the car to try to prevent Cabrera from leaving, and was dragged for more than a half-mile as Cabrera drove at speeds up to 60 mph, authorities said.
Police said Cusack clung to the car to avoid being run over.
When a Pembroke Pines Fire Rescue crew responded to the initial overdose call, Cabrera changed his direction of travel and tried to crash into their truck to cause Cusack to fall from his vehicle, police said.
Authorities said Cusack eventually released his hold once the driver slowed his speed as he approached the Century Village exit.
"My left shoe was gone. It was somewhere on the road. I have no idea. And my right shoe was pretty much from where the laces start to the toe was ripped off," Cusack said.
Police said the car got onto northbound Interstate 75 before continuing east on Interstate 595.
It eventually slowed down because of oncoming traffic, allowing officers to corner the suspects on the shoulder.
Cabrera, who authorities said confessed to using cocaine and heroin, is behind held in jail without bail.
"I look back on it and I wonder how things could've gone worse and didn't," Cusack said. "And there's really no explanation for it. I'm here."
Cusack underwent a minor surgery on his foot and was able to spend the holidays at home with his family.