I-77 car-top rider jailed after Thomasville standoff

The man whose top-of-the-car ride on Interstate 77 last month was captured on video is jailed in Davidson County after a standoff Tuesday with police in Thomasville, authorities say.

Rakeem Nishan Leverett, 22, of Lexington, was arrested on charges stemming from the Charlotte incident and from another alleged assault early Tuesday in Thomasville, according to police.

Thomasville police Capt. Mark Kattner said the standoff began after a woman identifying herself as Leverett’s girlfriend called police and reported a domestic disturbance.

He said it was the same woman who allegedly was involved in a disturbance with Leverett in Charlotte on June 28.

That disturbance led to the car-top ride on I-77, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said. The man, later identified as Leverett, clung to the top of a car being driven on I-77. At one point during the ride, the man appeared to break the rear window of the sedan with something sharp.

The ride and video aired by WSOC-TV became an Internet hit.

The alleged domestic dispute took place at the Payless ShoeSource at South Boulevard and East Woodlawn Road, according to CMPD.

Officer Jessica Wallin, a spokeswoman for CMPD, said no charges were filed initially.

“The victim was extremely uncooperative and refused to press charges,” Wallins said. But she said officers presented the case to the magistrate, who issued warrants against Leverett.

Tuesday morning, Thomasville police responded to the call in the 400 block of Reid Street after Leverett’s girlfriend told them that he was the same man involved in the I-77 ride. Police learned that CMPD wanted Leverett on two counts of assault on a female and one count each of felonious restraint, injury to personal property, unauthorized use of conveyance, and failure to appear in court.

Kattner said the girlfriend also told police that Leverett might be armed with a handgun.

“The suspect was also involved in an earlier larceny here in Thomasville,” Kattner said.

Police arrived at the residence about 1:30 p.m. and began a standoff with Leverett, who was alone in the home. Around 6:30 p.m., Kattner said, negotiators were able to talk him into surrendering. He was arrested by special response units from the Thomasville police and Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.

Kattner said the woman once again did not want to press charges against Leverett. He said officers went ahead and had the magistrate issue charges.

Leverett was charged in Davidson County with assault by strangulation; larceny; and resisting, delaying and obstructing officers.

He is jailed without bond in Davidson County, police said.

North Carolina prison records show Leverett served nearly four years in prison, from early 2009 to late 2012, on burglary and assault charges.

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