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Sleeping driver, 17, rams police cruisers before fleeing

Times staff
Published: October 27, 2017 Updated: October 27, 2017 at 04:19 PM

CLEARWATER Authorities arrested four men after an incident in which a 17-year-old fell asleep while driving in downtown Clearwater early Friday morning and tried to evade police by ramming into two cruisers and fleeing the scene.

Arrested are Marquese Bell, 20, and Omar Lee Butler, 19, along with two boys, 16 and 17, who the Tampa Bay Times is not identifying because their ages. Bell, Butler and the 16-year-old were passengers. The driver faces charges of battery on law enforcement and aggravated fleeing and eluding. They all face felony marijuana possession charges.

Clearwater police responded to a call of a suspicious vehicle around the intersection of Court Street and Myrtle Avenue at 5:37 a.m. The car sat through two light cycles, police said, and a caller told police the people in the car were passed out or asleep.

When officers arrived, they said they saw the car rolling through the intersection. As they tried to block it from rolling further, the driver woke up and rammed his car into two police cruisers, police said. The officers were not injured.

The car then took off and a pursuit began, police said.

Police eventually used a PIT maneuver at 132nd Ave. N and 119th St. N to disable the vehicle. The four occupants were taken to Morton Plant Hospital and later released into police custody.

Police said they found marijuana, counterfeit money and multiple set of keys in the vehicle.