A Connecticut police officer was hanging precariously out of a fleeing suspect’s car early Monday morning — with the vehicle speeding as fast as 50 miles per hour — when the death-defying scenario got even dicier, police said.
It looked like Taj Dickerson, the 22-year-old driver, was going to sideswipe a telephone pole to force Officer Tyler DeAngelo off his vehicle, according to police in Groton, Conn.
And so, scared for his life, DeAngelo reached into the vehicle and grabbed the wheel — turning the 2007 Ford Edge that Dickerson was driving away from the approaching pole, police said, before jumping off from the car altogether.
Dickerson had been dragging DeAngelo, who was half in and half out of the vehicle, for about a mile at that point, police said. When DeAngelo finally let go, he rolled onto the road, sustaining non-life threatening injuries.
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“He’s pretty banged up,” Groton Police Chief Louis J. Fusaro Jr. told NECN. “Imagine a vehicle going at a pretty high rate of speed, somebody getting ejected from it after being dragged almost a mile.”
Dickerson had initially been pulled over Monday morning just before 4 a.m. for a defective tail light, police said.
But when DeAngelo approached the vehicle, he could smell marijuana, which Dickerson eventually admitted to having on him, police said. A further search of the vehicle revealed more: Dickerson also had crack cocaine on him, police said, as well as a pitbull in the car with him.
As DeAngelo and officers who had joined as backup were preparing to take Dickerson (and the dog) into custody, Dickerson made a break for it — running back to his vehicle, and then getting ready to drive off, police said.
DeAngelo, however, was right on Dickerson’s tail, police said.
As the officer chased after Dickerson and then struggled with him on the driver’s side of the Ford, Dickerson was able to put the vehicle in drive — but the driver’s door was still wide open, and DeAngelo was partially hanging out of the car, police said. That’s when the mile-long ride began.
After DeAngelo let go rather than tangling with the telephone pole, some officers helped him while others tracked down Dickerson, police said.
Officer DeAngelo was treated and released, the police chief said. The state’s attorney told NECN that DeAngelo’s injuries required four staples to his head.
“He was certainly in fear for his life,” Fusaro told WTNH. “He told me that.”
Fusaro also told the TV station that body cam footage of the entire situation demonstrates just how wild it was. The footage hasn’t been released, however, as police continue investigating the incident.
Dickerson was arrested in nearby New London, Conn., and taken into custody, police said. He was being held on $500,000 bail early Monday.
Dickerson faces about a dozen charges, according to police, including assault on a police officer, reckless endangerment, marijuana and crack cocaine possession and reckless driving.
And, of course, the infraction that started it all: One count of driving with a defective tail light, police said.