Police: Fla. man rammed K-9 with car, broke into mayor’s home

The officer was able to scoop the dog into his arms in time to avoid the dog being run over

By Justine Griffin
Tampa Bay Times

HAINES CITY, Fla. — A Florida man was arrested Monday after he tried to run over a police dog and its handler, then broke into the home of Haines City’s mayor, according to the Haines City Police Department.

Matthew Swett, 31, who is from Osceola County, was spotted at a construction site about 2 a.m. Monday morning in Haines City by a patrolling officer. He ran and jumped into his blue 2003 Toyota and drove directly at the officer, who was in his patrol car with the emergency lights on, according to a news release. Swett struck the patrol car and fled the construction site, officers said.

A K-9 officer caught up with Swett on Old Polk City Road. A short pursuit ended when Swett’s vehicle ran into a ditch, officers said.

The officer deployed a K-9 named Cash, on a leash, and gave Swett clear directions, the release said. Swett ignored the officer and put his car into reverse and struck the K-9, officers said. The officer was able to scoop the dog into his arms in time to avoid him being run over. Cash was not injured.

[READ: 10 ways patrol officers can help the K-9 unit]

Swett drove off and crashed the car near the intersection of Prado Grande Avenue and Old Polk City Road. He and his passenger in the car, Kaila Ellig, 32, of Davenport, left the car and ran into the woods before the vehicle caught fire, officers said.

Deputies with Polk and Osceola counties helped search for the suspects and deployed a helicopter over the area. Swett and Ellig climbed a fence and cut a hole to access the screened-in back porch of Haines City Mayor Morris West’s home in the Randa Ridge subdivision, officers said.

Swett refused to surrender when authorities arrived, the release said. Fearing further escalation with the occupants in the home, officers deployed the same K-9, Cash, who bit Swett on the leg. Officers were able to physically secure Swett and they found a knife and prescription drugs on him, the release said.

After being treated for the dog bite, Swett was taken to the Polk County Jail. Swett has a prior criminal history that includes robbery, burglary, dealing in stolen property, drugs and driving offenses. Ellig has been charged in the past with grand theft, fraud and drug possession.

Swett faces charges of armed burglary, two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, use a deadly weapon on a police K-9, fleeing to elude, leaving the scene of a crash, criminal mischief, driving on a suspended license, resisting arrest without violence, driving an unregistered vehicle and possession of Buprenorphine. Ellig face charges of burglary of an occupied structure and resisting arrest without violence.

”I am thankful we have such a professional police department who literally work day and night to protect our city,” Mayor West said in a statement. “Our officers and their county partners showed tenacious resolve to stay on the heels of these suspects and bring this to a peaceful conclusion.”

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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