A Groton police officer was taken to the hospital after the driver he tried to stop dragged him for a mile at speeds up to 50 miles per hour, according to police.
Police said everything started when the officer stopped a 2007 Ford Edge SUV on Route 1 (Fort Hill Road) near Route 117 just before 4 a.m. for a motor vehicle violation and smelled marijuana. Police said the suspect, later identified as 22-year-old Taj Dickerson, acknowledged having marijuana and told the officer he had a pit bull in the car.
The officer asked Dickerson to take the dog out of the vehicle for a search and he initially complied, got out and waited with his pit bull, police said.
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While searching the car, the officer found crack cocaine, according to police, and police determined Dickerson would be taken into custody.
While they were trying to make arrangements for the dog, Dickerson rushed back to his vehicle, the officer chased after him and the two struggled.
Then Dickerson drove off with the door open, dragging the officer who was hanging out of the car, police said.
As Dickerson drove down Fort Hill Road, onto Poquonnock Road, at speeds reaching 50 miles per hour, the officer kept telling him to stop, police said.
At one point, it looked like Dickerson was driving right at a telephone pole. Fearing for his safety, the officer grabbed the steering wheel, turned it and managed to get away from the car, police said.
“At one point it appeared the vehicle was going to hit a pole. The officer was able to disengage, was thrown from the vehicle & sustained injuries," Town of Groton Police Chief Louis Fusaro Jr. said. “He’s pretty banged up. Imagine a vehicle going at a pretty high rate of speed, somebody getting ejected from it after being dragged almost a mile.”
A witness described the scene.
“I saw the traffic stop up ahead. And I heard the officer yell on the radio. The headlights from the suspect’s vehicle came out, away from the stop and ... they went by me. The driver’s door was open and when I looked in the rear-view mirror I saw him swerving over near the town hall.”
The officer was identified as Tyler DeAngelo. He has since been released from the hospital.
The state's attorney said he needed four staples in his head, he has a facial injury and is undergoing concussion protocol.
Police continued to pursue Dickerson into New London and stopped him on Eugene O’Neil Drive. He was taken into custody and charged with assault on a police officer, interfering with a police officer, reckless endangerment, unlawful restraint, threatening, possession of marijuana, possession of crack cocaine, and motor vehicle charges. He is being held on a $175,000 cash surety bond.
Dickerson appeared in court Monday. His public defender said Dickerson worked at a mechanical company but is unemployed.