(orlando sentinel) – OPD chief: Cop run over during traffic stop may never fully recover

Days after he was run over during a traffic stop in west Orlando, Officer William Anderson still has not been released from the hospital, police Chief John Mina said Wednesday.

Although Anderson’s injuries are not considered life-threatening, Mina said it’s possible that Anderson will never fully recover from those injuries and could have to deal with the aftermath of the impact for the rest of his life.

His injuries were so severe that police still have not been able to interview him about the incident, but witness statements and police radio traffic helped piece together the details.

Anderson, who was hired in 2007, was injured about 2:45 a.m. Monday after he was called off an extra-duty shift to assist other officers responding to a report of gunshots near the intersection of Kirkman Road and Vineland Road, police said.

Video recorded on the dashboard camera of Anderson’s patrol car showed what happened as Anderson attempted to stop a silver sedan with a 17-year-old driver behind the wheel.

In the 53-second video, Anderson rushes up to the car with his gun drawn. The sedan is seen repeatedly lunging forward, but another car stopped in front of the suspect’s car prevents it from speeding off.

Just as Anderson reaches the driver’s-side window, the front and back passenger door swing open. Another teenager who was sitting in the front seat jumps out and runs away, but the person who opened the back door stays in the car.

Anderson appears to run around the front of the car after the passenger, and at that moment the driver hits the gas and strikes Anderson, who fired his weapon at least twice during the incident.

Police said at least one of the bullets hit the teenage driver in the arm. Although he initially escaped, police said, he was also admitted to a local hospital, where he was arrested on charges of attempted second-degree murder.

The teenager “was behind the wheel of that vehicle,” Mina said. “We have physical evidence, we have forensic evidence and we have testimony that puts him behind the wheel of that vehicle that ran over our officer. He was shot by our officer, and he will face those charges.”

The teen suspect will be booked into the Juvenile Assessment Center when he is discharged from the hospital. It’s not clear how long the suspect will be hospitalized.

After the suspect’s car was seen speeding from the scene, the dash-cam video showed Anderson lying in the street for nearly 30 seconds before a bystander used his car to block traffic and protect the officer from further danger.

“Thank you to the citizen that blocked Officer Anderson’s body as he laid in the road after he was run over,” OPD spokeswoman Sgt. Wanda Ford said in a statement. “His actions prevented Officer Anderson from being struck by another vehicle.”

Hours later, police found the suspect’s still-burning car on Lake Pearl Drive several miles from the hit-and-run site.

Despite the possible charges against her son and the two others in the car, police confirmed Tuesday that the mother of the 17-year-old driver filed an excessive-force complaint against Anderson with OPD’s Internal Affairs department.

Mina said the complaint was unnecessary because the incident is already under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is customary when any officer fires a weapon.

An internal investigation will also be conducted, and the results of both investigations will be sent to the State Attorney’s Office to make the final determination whether Anderson acted within the law.

By the time the complaint was filed, police had already identified the teen and his passengers as suspects, and based on the information already available, Mina said “there is no doubt” in his mind that Anderson acted appropriately when he fired his gun.

Late Wednesday night, police said a 17-year-old passenger in the car when Anderson was run over had been charged with tampering with evidence. The teen is being held at the Juvenile Assessment Center.

“Our officers need to protect themselves,” Mina said. “He’s responded to a call where shots are fired and possible suspects who, based on the video, were obviously trying to get away.”

dstennett@tribune.com or 407-420-5447

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