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BWC: Fla. officer run over by trailer as suspect attempts to flee traffic stop

The officer was able to push the trailer off himself and rush to aid his partner before being taken to a hospital

By Joanna Putman

BELLE ISLE, Fla. — An officer has been hospitalized after being run over by a trailer attached to an SUV during a traffic stop, WESH reported.

The incident occurred May 3 when Belle Isle Police Department Officer Zachary Mathews pulled a vehicle over near the airport for operating a trailer without tail lights, according to the report. Body camera footage released May 7 shows that when the driver refused to get out of the vehicle, Mathews began trying to pull him out.

During the attempt to remove the suspect from his vehicle, he reportedly resisted and began reaching under the seat, which escalated the situation.

“In the struggle, Mathews and another officer to remove the driver from the vehicle, the driver shoves the officer and the officer loses his footing and his foot slips and forces him back at the same time. The vehicle is in motion and the trailer kind of runs up on the officer,” explained Deputy Chief Jeremy Millis.

The vehicle was eventually stopped by another officer, and the driver was taken into custody after suffering an eye injury that required medical attention, according to the report.

“I don’t think there would have been a struggle had the driver not started sort of reaching around inside the vehicle, and later on, they actually recovered a firearm from the same vehicle, too,” Millis added.

Mathews was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center’s ER for treatment of back and other injuries, according to the report. In addition to charges related to the incident, the suspect is also facing charges for possession of various drugs.

A WESH update posted on May 8 reveals that Mathews will go through several weeks of rehab for a back injury resulting from the incident, but he is eager to return to work.

“For what happened, everything could be a lot worse, and I’m thankful that it wasn’t. In a lot of pain right now but on track to make a full recovery,” he told WESH.

Videos show that Mathews was inexplicably able to lift the trailer off himself.

“It was seconds – it felt like a long time – but it was seconds until I was able to lift the trailer off,” he said. “A lot of adrenaline and the thought in my mind that my partner was fighting somebody that was giving him a run for his money at that point.”

Mathews told WESH he believes the body armor he was wearing prevented more severe injuries.