Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Public safety

After alcohol-fueled police chase, Clearwater police say beach driver threatened them

CLEARWATER — Ryan Michael Stiles' erratic behavior didn't end after his Jeep Cherokee halted in the sand following what police called a "liquor-fueled joy ride" up the beach.

Officers said the 27-year-old who live-streamed himself drinking and driving during a police chase Thursday threatened their lives.

Police said while Stiles was in a holding cell he not only used his belt to shatter a door's glass window, but also said he wanted to "lure officers in a trap" and that they would have been helpless. Then he made a slitting motion across his throat, a prosecutor recalled during Stiles' bail hearing on Friday.

Stiles of Pinellas Park, dressed in an orange jail jumper, responded that he wanted "to see the recordings."

"Sometimes it's beer talk, sometimes it isn't, I don't know," Judge John Carballo said during the hearing. "But I know I'm going to err on the side of caution."

Carballo set a $500,000 bail for that charge, but ultimately Stiles is being held without bail at the Pinellas County Jail. That's because he was just in the courtroom earlier this month after he was arrested on charges he was drunk in a hotel and assaulted an officer on May 27. His latest outburst broke the terms of that release.

"There's no bond on your misdemeanor," Carballo said. "So a million dollars won't get you out."

As the judge spoke, Stiles swayed back and forth, chuckled and made a few inaudible comments. Prosecutors said he told one officer "I know where you live, where your family lives" and called him "a marked man."

His actions don't match the person people close him described — but his former girlfriend, Chelsea Patterson, said he has an addiction to alcohol that has altered his personality. It's the reason the two broke up about three months ago.

RELATED: Police chase on sands of Clearwater Beach lands on Facebook Live

"He's really not a bad guy," said Patterson, 21. "I think what happened this last time is he gave up on himself and he no longer wanted the help. He no longer wanted to stay free."

Now Stiles faces a long list of charges: DUI, driving with a suspended license, reckless driving, fleeing and eluding, hit and run with property damage, felony criminal mischief and threatening a public servant.

And he could still face other charges for driving on Caladesi Island, a state park that is connected to Clearwater Beach by a sandbar.

In one night, the Stiles' Facebook Live on his profile page went from 3,000 to 42,000 views and more than 500 shares. Patterson said he likely wanted attention, not to harm anyone. In a 911 call, his roommate told the dispatcher it seemed he wanted to take his own life and "go out with a bang."

Patterson and Stiles' mother, Windy Hazard, hope jail time could mean Stiles gets the help they think he needs.

Patterson said he struggles with depression and mental illness. Hazard, 46, of Michigan, said he was on medication as a child to help him manage his behavior.

"I will always love my son," she said. "Wish I could change a lot of things but I can't and Ryan needs help and must face his consequences."

Stiles told friends earlier this year that he wanted to start fresh and Sarah Lynn Wright wanted to help.

They met when Wright, 26, was looking for someone to rent out a room in the house she shared with her mother. So when she saw another friend on Facebook post about knowing someone who needed a place to stay, she reached out. She paid his bail from his other arrest.

"I thought I could help," Wright said. "Obviously I couldn't."

Patterson said when he wasn't drinking, Stiles had a career climbing and cutting down trees. That was his "first love," she said. She had hoped he'd focus himself on that, rather than on drinking. Stiles could be kind and caring, she said, but he didn't know how to cope with a rough childhood and depression.

"Supposedly he was trying to get his life around," Patterson said. "I guess that backfired."

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.

   
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