He tried to hide in the swamp. But he couldn’t hide from a sheriff’s dog (w/video)

Published April 18
Updated April 18

A high-speed chase across two counties ended late Tuesday when a Pasco sheriff’s dog tracked down a Land O’Lakes man wanted for assaulting a Hernando sheriff’s deputy as he tried to hide by submerging himself in a swamp, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

The arrest of Paul Daniel Smith, 34, was caught on bodycam footage and shows just his head sticking out of the muddy swamp water near Gardenia Drive and Wisteria Loop in Land O’Lakes.

Knox, the sheriff’s dog, led deputies right to Smith. Knox kept licking Smith’s face as he argued with deputies. The video captured their encounter:

"Stop resisting," a deputy told Smith as he pulled his handcuffs out. "Look you’re coming out."

"I know that," Smith said. "Just don’t put them on tight."

"Yeah right," the deputy said.

"I’m serious," Smith said.

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said the incident started when its deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call at Veterans Memorial Park at 12254 Spring Hill Drive late Tuesday afternoon. While speaking with Smith, deputies said they noticed his license plate was stolen and attempted to arrest him.

Smith assaulted a deputy and drove fled with one handcuff dangling from his wrist, deputies said. He drove off in his blue Ford F150 with a handcuff dangling from his wrist. A woman was with him at the time.

A Pasco deputy spotted the truck speeding south on U.S. 41 in the Land O’Lakes area at about 6:10 p.m. and started pursuing it. Smith turned into the Lake Thomas area and struck a pole and mailbox while attempting to evade capture, the Sheriff’s Office said.

At ne point the pick-up slowed and the passenger, Tara Berger, jumped out and was caught by deputies. Smith turned into a subdivision and at one point aimed at deputies, the Sheriff’s Office said, and then jumped out of the F-150 and ran into a nearby swamp.

Deputies surrounded the area and a sheriff’s helicopter watched from overhead. Deputy Rob Wilkins, his dog Keno and Cpl. Andrew Denbo tracked down Smith.

Smith was arrested on charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, fleeing to elude and violation of probation. He is also wanted on several felony chargees in Hernando County. Smith was taken to Bayfront Health Spring Hill for medical treatment.

Berger, 31, was arrested on a charge of lying to a law enforcement officer during a felony investigation.

 
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