Traffic stops remain one of the most dangerous actions a patrol officer can engage in, yet it is frequently seen as a “routine” activity. The below video shows a deputy sheriff in Palm Beach County who is dragged by a motorcycle through a busy intersection.
Fortunately, the deputy was not seriously injured and the suspect was identified. (Apologies for the pre-roll, but I did not have access to the raw footage any other way.)
Being dragged by a car, truck or motorcycle is a serious, and all too often, lethal incident.
In another case here in Florida, a woman on a DUI stop was able to get away from the investigating deputy and flee in her car. The deputy was dragged by the car, and the deputy sustained serious injuries. The suspect was arrested, but not before she struck and killed a motorcyclist in an intersection several miles up the road.
When dealing with someone in a vehicle, whether a traffic stop or a suspicious person in a parked car, we have to be conscious of the dangers the vehicle poses. Yes, the vehicle can be a place to conceal a weapon, but the car itself can be a weapon also.
Be very careful when leaning or reaching into a passenger compartment. If the driver suddenly accelerates, you could be caught and dragged. Ever think about what would happen if a passenger or driver was to grab your arm or jacket before driving off? If they are holding onto you, you can’t simply “let go.”
I’ve been in several situations where the driver could have caused serious injury or death to me or my partner if we hadn’t responded just right. The most recent event was a suspicious person call in a neighborhood. A woman was sitting in a parked car outside the house of a jail deputy. She was concerned that the woman may be a former inmate who was seeking revenge.
As it turns out, the woman was a drunk who thought she was outside of her ex-boyfriend’s house. When my partner tried to get her out of the car, things went downhill fast. We had more than enough to arrest her for DUI without any voluntary SFST, so when she refused to exit, my partner decided to go ahead and arrest.
As my partner opened the driver’s door and tried to remove her seatbelt, she suddenly grabbed the gear shift, slammed it into drive and hit the accelerator. The passenger window was open, and I literally dove in through the window (maybe not the smartest thing I’ve ever done), and jammed the gear shift into park just as she was trying to accelerate.
The net result is my partner and I both walked away from the incident, and the driver was extracted from the vehicle using that force which was reasonable in effecting the arrest. Had she been faster, or I slower, my partner would have gotten dragged for at least some distance.
Bottom line – pay attention to what you are doing on every traffic stop.
Richard is a police officer with a medium sized, central Florida department, and previously worked for a Metro-Atlanta agency. He has served as a field training officer, court officer, corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, watch commander, commander of a field training and evaluation program, and general pain in the butt to management-types looking to cut training hours.