Handcuffed Suspect Punches Deputy, Flees to Pasco, Capture Caught on Video
LAND O’ LAKES – A violent altercation between a Hernando County Sheriff’s Deputy and a Domestic Violence Suspect led to a pursuit into Pasco County where the suspect was found hiding in a swamp.
The incident began yesterday afternoon at Veterans Park on Spring Hill Drive. That’s where a Deputy made contact with 34-year-old Paul Smith and discovered the tag was stolen on his blue Ford F150. The Deputy was able to place one handcuff on Smith before he turned and punched the Deputy, and then stole his radio. Smith jumped into the vehicle and fled towards Pasco County with his ex-girlfriend, 31-year-old Tara Berger.
Pasco Deputies spotted the vehicle traveling southbound on US-41 and pursued the vehicle until reaching the area of Little Lake Thomas Road. That’s where Berger jumped out of the vehicle and was detained. Smith then turned and headed towards deputies before abandoning the vehicle and fleeing on foot into a heavily wooded and swampy area.
After a near hour-long search with a K-9 Unit, Smith was found hiding in a few feet of water and taken into custody. Pasco County Provided video of the capture: FOLLOW THIS LINK OR CLICK BELOW. Hernando County Sheriff’s Office does not utilize body worn cameras.
Hernando County has charged Smith with Escape, Battery LEO, Resist Arrest w/Violence, and Reckless Driving. Pasco has charged Smith with Flee to Elude, Aggravated Assault on LEO, and Violation of Probation.
Because Berger was untruthful during the investigation, she was charged with providing false information during a felony investigation.
There is no word on the deputy’s condition who was punched by Smith during the altercation.
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