Haines City, FL – Police said a Florida couple was arrested early on Monday morning after they rammed a Haines City police officer’s vehicle, tried to run over a police K9 and his handler, and then broke into the mayor’s house.
The incident began at about 2 a.m. on June 14 when Haines City Police Officer William Tucker was on patrol and spotted a blue 2003 Toyota at a construction site, WTSP reported.
Investigators said that when the suspect in the Toyota saw the officer, the man – later identified as 31-year-old Matthew Swett – jumped into his vehicle and drove straight at Officer Tucker.
Authorities said he crashed his car directly into the front of Officer Tucker’s patrol car, WTSP reported.
Police said 32-year-old Kaila Ellig was with Swett in his vehicle.
The pair fled the area but a short while later, Haines City Police Officer Joseph Elam and his partner, K9 Cash, spotted the suspect’s Toyota exiting onto Old Polk City Road, WTSP reported.
Officer Elam chased the Toyota and Swett ran into a ditch.
Police said the couple jumped out of the car and tried to flee, WTSP reported.
Officer Elam deployed K9 Cash and began giving commands to Swett and Ellig, but they jumped back in the Toyota.
“The commands were ignored and Swett put the vehicle in reverse and intentionally drove toward the two, striking Cash,” a Haines City spokesperson told WTSP in an email. “Officer Elam, seeing what was about to happen, used the leash to pull Cash away from the accelerating vehicle into his arms, and ran, with Cash in his arms, to avoid being run over. Thanks to his quick action, K9 Cash was not injured.”
Police said Swett backed up until he smashed into Officer Elam’s car and then fled, again.
He crashed the Toyota near Prado Grande Avenue and Old Polk City Road, WTSP reported.
Police said Swett and Ellig jumped out of the car and ran for the woods just as the vehicle burst into flames.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office, working closely with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, set up a perimeter around the area and deployed a helicopter to assist with the search, WTSP reported.
Officer said that Swett and Ellig climbed a fence and then broke into the home of the mayor of Haines City, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The pair cut a hole in the screened-in porch of Haines City Mayor Morris West’s home in the Randa Ridge neighborhood to gain entry, according to police.
Authorities tracked the pair to mayor’s house and gave them the opportunity to surrender, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
But police said Swett refused to give up.
Officers said that Swett ignored police commands and continued to reach for his waistband, WTSP reported.
So Officer Elam deployed K9 Cash, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“Fearing a further escalation with occupants in the home, Officer Elam directed his partner Cash to apprehend Swett who was bitten on the leg, allowing the officers to physically secure him,” the police explained in a press release.
After Swett had been apprehended, police found a large, fixed-blade knife in his pants and prescription drugs in his pockets, WTSP reported.
Ellig cooperated with police commands and was arrested without incident.
Swett was transported to AdventHealth Heart of Florida and treated for the dog bite before he was booked into the Polk County Jail, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
He was charged with armed burglary, two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, use a deadly weapon on a police K9, 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.
Records showed Swett’s prior criminal history included charges for robbery, burglary, dealing in stolen property, drugs, and driving offenses, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Ellig was charged with burglary of an occupied structure and resisting arrest without violence.
Her past criminal history included charges for grand theft, fraud, and drug possession, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
”I am thankful we have such a professional police department who literally work day and night to protect our city,” the mayor said in a statement afterwards. “Our officers and their county partners showed tenacious resolve to stay on the heels of these suspects and bring this to a peaceful conclusion.”
Police said that the vehicle the pair had been driving wasn’t registered to either of the suspects, and that Swett hadn’t had a valid driver’s license since 2017, WTSP reported.
“This was fantastic police work by our officers and surrounding law
enforcement partners,” Interim Haines City Police Chief Loyd Stewart said in a statement. “Because of their efforts, no one was seriously hurt and one very dangerous man and his accomplice are in jail.”