Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Vanessa Franceschi was sitting in her patrol car on the shoulder of Florida's Turnpike in South Miami-Dade on Tuesday conducting a traffic stop when someone rammed into her rear bumper and took off.
She put on her lights and sirens and immediately began following the white Honda south on the turnpike for about four miles. The department said the driver, later identified as Raumel Quintero, traveled at speeds up to 100 mph and had "intentionally" hit the trooper's car.
It was a PIT maneuver — described on FHP'S website as intentionally hitting a fleeing vehicle in order to make it stop — that brought Quintero's vehicle to a crashing halt near Mile Marker 25, the Tamiami Trail exit.
“This suspect’s actions were cowardly and Trooper Franceschi’s quick and courageous actions exemplify the best of the Florida Highway Patrol and all law enforcement officers,” Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes said in a news release.
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According to a police report, Quintero, 20, who has had previous run-ins with the law including resisting arrest without violence, "drove off the main portion of the road and intentionally rammed the front of his Honda into the rear of the patrol car, while Trooper Franceschi was sitting in her car, conducting a traffic stop."
After the collision, Quintero put his car in reverse and took off, an officer wrote in Quintero's police report.
"Mr. Quintero's action demonstrated a wanton disregard for the lives and safety of the motoring public," the officer wrote.
Franceschi was given the go-ahead to use the PIT maneuver and when she did, the Honda crashed into the metal guardrail off the inside shoulder, according to the report.
Trooper Franceschi was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for back injuries.
Quintero, who was charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, felony fleeing and eluding and leaving the scene of a crash with Injuries, was being held Wednesday in Miami-Dade's Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. According to his report, he told arresting officers that he intentionally hit her car.
“I am grateful that Trooper Franceschi was not seriously injured and was able to act immediately to ensure the suspect was stopped from committing any additional crimes against law enforcement and the public,” Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, director of the Florida Highway Patrol, said in a news release. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement and criminal justice partners to ensure the suspect, and any suspects who target law enforcement, are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”