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Driver takes off, drags officer four blocks

Legrand Pratt, 42, faces charges including attempted homicide on a police officer.

Legrand Pratt, 42, faces charges including attempted homicide on a police officer.

TAMPA — A Tampa police officer was recovering Monday after hanging from the driver's side of a stolen car for four blocks.

The speeding car later crashed into a telephone pole and caught fire after a police chase.

Police said the chase started about 11 p.m., when Officer Kiet Truong approached the driver's side of a white 1994 Chevrolet Corvette near Beach Street and Rome Avenue.

Police said the engine was off and driver Legrand Pratt had the sports car's keys in his hand.

But while another officer investigated the car's license tag and information about Pratt, the 42-year-old North Carolina man "got nervous" and reached for the ignition, police wrote in a report.

Truong, 32, tried to stop Pratt from putting the keys in the ignition, but Pratt took off with the officer hanging from the door, his arm wedged between the steering wheel and the driver's 240-pound body, a police spokeswoman said.

Pratt drove about four blocks before Truong fell away onto the pavement, the report said.

Pratt continued for about 2 miles before a police cruiser immobilized the car, forcing him to lose control and crash into a telephone pole.

The crash caused a fire that damaged the Corvette and a police cruiser tailing it.

Police said Truong was treated and released from a local hospital. Truong, who joined the department in June 2006, was sore and recovering at home, Davis said, and declined to be interviewed.

Davis said Truong's actions are being reviewed, as is standard procedure any time police engage in a pursuit.

Pratt was charged with attempted homicide on a law enforcement officer, aggravated fleeing to elude and driving without a valid driver's license.

He also has an outstanding warrant for his arrest in York County, S.C., for "possession of a vehicle and breach of trust over $5,000," police said.

According to Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis, Pratt left a stolen vehicle at a car dealership and test-drove the Corvette involved in Sunday's incident.

He was held at Orient Road Jail without bail.

Pratt has been arrested 10 times in Florida since 1998.

He has been sentenced twice to prison for grand theft motor vehicle. He also has a record in North Carolina, where he is considered a "habitual felon."

Charges there have included larceny, assault and possessing stolen goods.

Times researcher John Martin and staff writer Rebecca Catalanello contributed to this report.

Driver takes off, drags officer four blocks 02/25/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 9:20am]
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