Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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.

After alcohol-fueled police chase, Clearwater police say beach driver threatened them 07/21/17 [Last modified: Monday, July 24, 2017 4:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Toddler, 1, drowns in spa at birthday party in Trinity


    TRINITY — A toddler drowned at a birthday party Saturday evening and died at the hospital, authorities say, after his parents found him in a spa.

  2. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday


    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  3. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  4. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  5. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy


    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.