East Chicago man charged after crashing into state trooper's car, fleeing scene

An East Chicago man is facing a slew of charges after he crashed into an Indiana State Trooper's patrol vehicle and sped away from the scene. 

The crash happened at 11:30 p.m., March 7 on Cline Avenue, near the bridge over the Grand Calumet River. 

Trooper Kevin Council was helping with traffic while his vehicle was parked in the left lane with his emergency lights activated.

Moments later, an SUV crashed into the rear of his patrol vehicle, revved its engine and sped away, according to Indiana State Police.

The trooper was taken to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. 

The vehicle involved in the wreck, a 2019 Chevrolet Equinox, was later found in East Chicago, Ind. in the 3200 block of Regent Street. 

Police say it had significant damage, which included flat tires, deployed airbags and open alcoholic beverage containers. The vehicle was later impounded. 

A day later, Joel Barrera called the East Chicago Police Department, claiming it was stolen from his girlfriend's home.

He described the vehicle to police and it matched the SUV that was recovered on Regent Street, which was parked in front of his home. 

A Lake County judge obtained a search warrant for his vehicle and to collect DNA from Barrera. 

However, when officers tried to serve the warrant, Barrera wouldn't cooperate, police say. 

He was handed down a slew of charges, which include the following: 

  • Criminal Recklessness- Level 6 Felony
  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident Causing Injury- Level 6 Felony
  • Resisting Law Enforcement- Level 6 Felony
  • Obstruction of Justice- Level 6 Felony
  • False Informing- Class A Misdemeanor
  • Reckless Driving- Class A Misdemeanor
  • Possession of Marijuana- Class B Misdemeanor
  • Altered Interim License Plate- Class C Misdemeanor

Barrera has since been released from the Lake County Jail.