ST. PETERSBURG — A veteran police officer was injured Monday afternoon when the all-terrain vehicle he was driving was struck by a car at a downtown intersection.
Just after 4 p.m., St. Petersburg police tried to make a traffic stop for seat belt violations at Fifth Street and Fourth Avenue S. The car in question sped up. Police spokesman Rick Shaw said officers followed department policy and did not pursue.
"Our policy is if it flees, you let it go, so they pulled over to the side but they could still see it coming northbound," Shaw said.
The car ran a red light at the intersection of Fifth Street and First Avenue S and struck a police ATV that had been heading east on First, police said. The ATV was knocked on its side, and the car was disabled in the collision.
Two men bailed out of the car and ran. They were caught by police and arrested. Two guns and narcotics were found inside the car, Shaw said. He said one of the guns had been reported stolen in an April 13 residential burglary.
The officer in the ATV, who has not been identified, was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. He was having a difficult time speaking because of chest pain, Shaw said, but was expected to live.
"He is extremely sore," Shaw said. "He might have broken ribs. He was laboring to talk."
Shaw said the officer has been with the department for 26 years and is part of its downtown deployment team.
The driver of the car, 27-year-old Joshua A. Malone of St. Petersburg, was injured but expected to live. He was taken to Bayfront as well.
He faces charges of fleeing police, leaving the scene of a crash involving injuries, driving with a suspended or revoked license, grand theft of a firearm, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance (crack cocaine) with the intent to sell it, possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance (liquid THC).
The passenger was released after questioning.
The police ATV was brand new and had only 10 miles on it, Shaw said. It was totaled.