Police release Oak Bluffs terminal security footage

Police arrest Justin Leblanc on 12 charges including assault and battery on a police officer. He was held on a $5,000 cash bail.


Updated, April 12

Oak Bluffs Police have released the security footage from the Steamship Authority terminal from Thursday night, when the driver of a Ford F-250 pickup truck drove off the pier and crashed into the water Thursday night, after ramming a police car and attempting to flee.

The footage shows that police ended their pursuit of the suspect at the beginning of the Oak Bluffs terminal, at Seaview Avenue.

The driver, later identified in court documents as Justin Leblanc, survived and managed to swim to a set of pilings after crashing into the water where he was rescued by first responders and arrested.

He was taken to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Oak Bluffs police have since charged Leblanc with 12 different crimes including allegedly resisting arrest, trespassing with a motor vehicle, assault and battery on a police officer and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Leblanc, appearing over Zoom, was arraigned Friday morning at Edgartown District Court. He was held on a $5,000 cash bail. He pleaded not guilty.

Defense attorney for Justin Leblanc during an arraignment hearing —Nikeya Tankard

The incident stemmed from a domestic dispute involving Leblanc’s wife.

As of Friday morning, the F-250 had not been retrieved from the water.

Viewer discretion advised. There are curse words in the video above

Oak Bluffs Police issued a statement Friday morning, reporting that Leblanc’s arrest began with a night of alleged domestic violence and that police pulled him over in connection with an alleged assault on a woman earlier in the night.

Oak Bluffs Police Sgt. Christopher Wiggin spotted a blue Ford F-250 truck at around 9:30 pm that was believed to be owned by an individual wanted for a domestic incident that had occurred earlier in the evening.

The driver failed to pull over and stop when Wiggin activated his light and siren in the Masonic Avenue area.

“The vehicle continued to travel toward Massasoit Avenue, and eventually stopped,” the release states. “Sgt. Wiggin believed that the driver of the vehicle had given up, and placed his cruiser in park. The driver then drove his truck in reverse and accelerated rapidly. The truck rammed into the front of the cruiser, causing significant damage.”

Police cruiser after getting rammed by the truck. —Courtesy Oak Bluffs Police

The driver then sped off toward Seaview Avenue, and Wiggin, who was not injured from the incident, followed the truck in his “significantly damaged” cruiser, and updated other officers.

Wiggin later saw the driver turn into a gated ramp to the SSA dock, and “observed the truck launch [off] the ferry ramp into the water.”

Assistance from the Oak Bluffs Fire Department and the U.S. Coast Guard were subsequently requested.

The driver could be seen swimming away from the ramp and climbing the ladder onto one of the pilings, according to the release.

Oak Bluffs Police did not originally release information regarding the identity of the suspect publicly, citing state domestic violence laws. 

Oak Bluffs police chief Jonathan Searle confirmed with The Times that no alcohol or drugs were involved in the case, saying he was grateful that nobody was significantly hurt in the incident.

According to the release, the driver sustained minor hand injuries while getting out of his truck. Police say he was released from the hospital after a brief time, and booked at Dukes County Jail.

Court hearing

More details emerged about the incident during Leblanc’s arraignment on Friday morning, held at the Edgartown courthouse. Leblanc attended over Zoom while he was detained.

According to prosecutor John Wheatley at the hearing, Leblanc is a convicted felon, and has been charged with a number of crimes, as recently as 2013.

Wheatley said that officers were initially dispatched to Leblanc’s home on account of domestic assault and battery involving Leblanc and his wife. Leblanc then fled the scene in a blue Ford pickup truck. A number of officers stayed at the primary scene, and a number pursued him. 

Prosecutors say that several hours later, officers identified Leblanc and his vehicle on Circuit Avenue. When police activated their lights, Leblanc stopped in the middle of the road and then accelerated toward officers, and, with significant force and speed, crushed the hood of a police cruiser. Wheatley said that the police cruiser was totaled following the blow. The prosecutor said that a chase ensued, with officers reporting that Leblanc’s speed exceeded 50 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone. 

Leblanc’s defense attorney, Cass Luskin, argued that the court should take Leblanc’s mental health into consideration. He recognized Leblanc’s criminal record, but said that Leblanc relocated to Martha’s Vineyard as a way to “break the chains of addiction.” According to his attorney, Leblanc has stayed sober.

His attorney asked for a bail of $160, on the basis that Leblanc has limited funds in his bank account.

The next court date for Leblanc is scheduled for May 23.


Witness account

An eyewitness to the rescue, Thomas, a welder, mechanic, and year-round Island resident, who asked that his last name not be used, took a video on his phone as the rescue and the arrest unfolded. He said he lives next to the Oak Bluffs Fire Department, and heard sirens blaring at approximately 9:50 pm. He turned on a police scanner he has in his home, and heard about the police chase. He said he heard chatter on the scanner that the driver had gone off the pier and was struggling against the current.

“I live right by the fire station, so I heard all the action, and just drove down to the pier. They had a diver ready to go in the water, but then the guy was seen swimming and struggling in the current. That is what it said on the scanner. When I saw him, he was standing on the piling and holding on,” said Thomas.

“People saw him driving down Seaview Avenue, and then turned onto the wooden pier at the Steamship, and people were saying that he drove all the way to the end and the car crashed into the water,” he added, saying that the vehicle was visibly submerged in the water.

“Whoever he was, he was somebody who did not want to get caught. Maybe not from here, but definitely had to be someone who was either desperate or completely out of it,” said Thomas.

“I would not say this is the wildest thing I have ever seen, but this was pretty crazy for Martha’s Vineyard,” he added.

Steamship Authority communications director Sean Driscoll said in a statement that the ferry service was cooperating with the Massachusetts State Police and the Oak Bluffs Police Department in the investigation.

“Following Thursday night’s incident, a vehicle remains in the water at the Oak Bluffs Terminal until weather conditions improve and a barge and crane can deploy to remove the vehicle,” the statement reads. “A full assessment of damages will be made, including the use of a dive team to inspect the pilings.”

Driscoll also said video footage of the incident was being reviewed, and the Steamship was determining whether the footage could be released per its “security procedures.” “No timeline for that review and potential release of footage is currently available,” the statement reads.


Nikeya Tankard, Daniel Greenman, Sam Houghton, and Eunki Seonwoo contributed to this report.




  1. Police were smart to stop at the entrance of the ramp. As soon as they
    saw him go off the deep end, they switched into rescue mode.
    Good job—-

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