The incident began around 4:00 pm on Monday afternoon. Police attempted to pull over 27 year old driver Joshua Malone and his passenger for a routine seatbelt violation at the intersection of Fourth Avenue South and Fifth Street. Malone and his passenger, refused to pull over and began to flee the police.
According to the St. Petersburg Police Department, “The car refused to stop and fled northbound on 5th Street South. Officers did not pursue the fleeing vehicle and pulled over to the side of the street.” According to police spokesman Rick Shaw, “Our policy is if it flees, you let it go, so they pulled over to the side but they could still see it coming northbound.” This policy of pulling over was put in place to reduce the number of accidents from police chases.
The vehicle, driven by Malone, continued driving Northbound at increasing speeds, eventually running through a red light at the intersection of First Avenue South where its front end collided with the side of an police ATV. The ATV, driven by the now injured police officer, was heading Eastbound on First Avenue South.
The impact of the collision flipped the ATV onto its left-hand side, causing the police officer to sustain several non-life threatening injuries. The collision also caused non-threatening injuries for Malone. The passenger is reported as unharmed from the accident.
The collision disabled Malone’s vehicle and at that point, Malone and his passenger jumped out of the vehicle and attempted to flee the scene of the accident on foot. They were then pursued by police officers responding to the accident on foot, caught, and taken into police custody. Malone was then taken by the police to Bayfront Hospital for treatment for the injuries he sustained during the accident.
Once the suspects were in police custody, the pursuing officers then searched Malone’s vehicle where they found Malone was in possession of both narcotics and two illegal handguns. After running the serial numbers, police found that one of the handguns was stolen, stating: “One of the guns was reported stolen in a residential burglary on April 13.”
Malone, has been charged with several crimes including eluding police, fleeing the scene of a crash involving an injury, driving with a suspended/revoked license, grand theft firearm, convicted felon in possession of a firearm, possession of crack cocaine with intent to sell, possession of marijuana, and possession of liquid THC.
Police also report that “The passenger was initially detained, questioned, and has been released at this time.” So far, the passenger still does not face any charges.
The injured officer, who is part of the downtown deployment team, has not been identified at this time. He was immediately rushed in an ambulance to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg after the collision. He has sustained several non threatening injuries, but according to hospital staff and Shaw, is expected to make a full recovery.
According to Shaw, the officer was suffering from severe chest pain and having a difficult time speaking after the accident, stating “He is extremely sore. He might have broken ribs. He was laboring to talk.”
The police ATV, a Polaris model, was just put into service that day and had only 10 miles logged on the odometer. The vehicle, used to patrol the downtown district, cost around $20,000, and is now completely totaled. Shaw stated it is “a total loss” when questioned about ATV.