Police in Florida have arrested and charged a man with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and aggravated assault after body cam footage showed the suspect dragging a Seminole County Sheriff's deputy for more than 100-yards on an interstate on-ramp, authorities said Monday.
According to Sheriff Dennis Lemma, Seminole County deputy Aaron Blais initiated a traffic stop on the suspect, identified as Rocky Rudolph Jr., 38, because his vehicle had illegally tinted windows. The officer said he could smell marijuana on the suspect, who was identified as a convicted felon, and asked him for a medical card. Rudolph informed the officer that he didn't have a medical card for the marijuana and refused to turn his vehicle's engine off.
The deputy was still talking with Rudolph when the suspect took off in his black Escalade, dragging the officer about 20 feet, as seen in the body camera footage released by the department.
When the car came to a stop, Blais withdrew his firearm, pointed it into the vehicle and requested backup. However, Rudolph then grabbed Blaise and drove another 100-yards or so toward Interstate 4.
"Deputy Blais falls off the car, rolls into the median and is witnessed by eyewitnesses all around," Sheriff Lemma told reporters at a news conference about the incident on Saturday.
At one point, Blais was able to get a shot off, wounding Rudolph in the leg. It's unclear how many shots were fired by Blais, which will be part of the investigation by The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Sheriff's Office spokesman Bob Kealing said.
Rudolph then escaped the scene, allegedly throwing a gun into the buses, eyewitnesses said. Law enforcement officials, including officers with SWAT, caught up with the suspect about eight hours later.
Lemma said the traffic stop was incredibly dangerous for his officer and that he was "absolutely convinced that Rudolph was reaching for his gun" during the incident with Blais.
"This was a very dangerous situation," Lemma said. "Our deputy could have been killed."
Blais was taken to a local hospital where he was treated and released.
Photo: Seminole County Sheriff's Office