GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — The dangers of police work unfolded just before 4:00 a.m. on Route 1 in Groton.
A car was pulled over for a broken tail light and when the officer smelled marijuana, the driver agreed to get out of the car with his dog.
But before police say 22-year-old Taj Dickerson could be arrested for crack cocaine found in the car, he took off running back to his Ford Edge.
“An officer gave chase on foot tried to stop him from engaging the vehicle putting it into drive,” said Groton Police Chief Louis Fusaro, Jr. “Unfortunately, the operator was able to do that. Took the officer along with him half in the vehicle and half out.”
Officer Tyler DeAngelo, whose been on the force less than two years, continued to yell at Dickerson to stop, but he was dragged for about a mile. The car exceeded speeds of 50 MPH at times.
“He was certainly in fear for his life,” said Chief Fusaro. “He told me that.”
At one point, the officer says Dickerson tried to head toward a telephone pole.
“He was able to grab the steering wheel, avoid it, and at the same time get himself out of the car,” said the chief.
He says the officer was banged up, but fortunately suffered only minor injuries.
“I’m just so glad he’s safe. You know what I mean, that’s the most important thing. But that’s frightening,” said Christina Puskarz of Groton.
Not only was the driver able to get back in the car and take off, but, apparently, his pit bull was right there with him. The chief says while the officer was hanging on for dear life, that dog was biting Ofc. DeAngelo’s arm, making this an even more life-threatening experience.
“A very harrowing experience for our officer,” said Chief Fusaro.
And one that shows what starts out as a routine traffic stop can quickly turn dangerous.
“These are good guys,” said Puskarz. “I know a lot of the cops in this town and that scares me. That’s all I got to say.”
Officers who had also arrived to help with this early morning arrest were able to help Ofc. DeAngelo after he fell from the car onto Route 1. Other units took off after the suspect who was ultimately arrested in New London.
Dickerson faces charges of Interfering with a Police Officer, Assault on a Police Officer, Reckless Endangerment 1st, Unlawful Restraint 1st, Threatening 2nd, Cruelty to animals, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Crack Cocaine, Defective tail lamp, Reckless Driving, and Engaging Police in pursuit.
There is body camera video of this incident, which the chief says shows just how harrowing it was. That footage not being released yet because the incident is still under investigation.