Monday, November 20, 2017
Public safety

Pasco man with criminal past helps deputy in violent struggle

RECOMMENDED READING


NEW PORT RICHEY — Anthony Stinnett doesn't figure as a friend of the law.

His arrest record stretches back to the mid-1990s, when he went to prison for four years on a slew of charges, including burglary, grand theft and resisting an officer with violence. His most recent arrest was for DUI last year.

"I've always been a little down on myself," he said. "I was the bad guy."

But last week he turned around. He said he saw the light early the morning of Jan. 4 when he saved a deputy's life.

Stinnett, 35, said he, his fiancee, Sasha, and her 15-year-old brother were the only ones in the parking lot at a 7-Eleven on 6926 Little Road when the deputy's patrol car pulled in about 1 a.m., a loud thump coming from somewhere.

It sounded like the car had a flat tire.

The deputy parked. More thumping. Then glass exploded from the back of the car. Osvaldo Flores, 30, erupted "like a bullet" from the broken window and came straight at Deputy John Brown, Stinnett said.

Stinnett watched while the two men struggled. Reports say Flores punched and kicked the deputy. Then, Stinnett said, he saw Flores loop his handcuffs around Brown's neck and pull. Stinnett said he didn't have time to think. He ran across the parking lot. He grabbed Flores' arms to pull them away, but he says Flores was strong. Eventually, he pried the cuffs from Brown's throat. Stinnett said Flores got up to run but he tackled Flores by the legs. He and the deputy held Flores to the ground and waited for backup.

• • •

Flores was first arrested earlier Jan. 4 on charges of possession of marijuana and violation of a domestic violence injunction. En route to the jail, reports state, Flores told the deputy he wasn't going back to prison. In the back of the patrol car, he wriggled the handcuffs to his front and started stomping the windows, causing $1,000 damage. Brown pulled into the 7-Eleven parking lot to stop him, but it was too late.

• • •

After more deputies arrived to control Flores, the deputy went inside the gas station to wash his face. Stinnett walked inside, too, to buy the 2 liters of Mountain Dew and Coke he had come for. He said the deputy thanked him in the store.

Stinnett described the incident to reporters Thursday at his house, which is so close to the Sheriff's Office it can be seen from his front yard. While he talked, he tinkered under the hood of the black 1970 Ford Galaxie 500 Phantom he bought with his money from restoring houses. He acknowledged his previous run-ins with deputies but said he's trying to put those behind him.

"I wasn't always a big fan of the law," Stinnett said. "I didn't even see him as an officer. I just saw him as a human being in trouble."

Flores, still in jail, declined an interview request from the Times, as did Brown. Sheriff Chris Nocco told reporters last week that Flores was lucky to be alive after trying to kill a deputy. Flores is charged with attempted murder, escape and criminal mischief.

"I think it's safe to say," said sheriff's spokeswoman Melanie Snow, "that if Anthony Stinnett had not intervened, the situation could have been much worse."

The Sheriff's Office has scheduled an award ceremony next week where deputies will be honored. Nocco plans to recognize Stinnett and reunite him with Brown. Stinnett said the recognition has given him self esteem. That it feels good to be good.

Stinnett will also likely testify as a witness when Flores goes to court. Hearing that, he smiled sheepishly.

"I guess I'll be on the other side of the podium," he said. "Ha!"

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Alex Orlando can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

Comments

St. Petersburg pedestrian fatally struck in Osceola County

A pedestrian from St. Petersburg was killed Sunday night when he was struck by an SUV in Osceola County.According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the unidentified 24-year-old man was struck along on U.S. 192 at Pine Grove Road in St. Cloud around 7 p....
Updated: 3 hours ago
Park, Walk and Talk is St. Petersburg police chief’s signature program. Is it working?

Park, Walk and Talk is St. Petersburg police chief’s signature program. Is it working?

ST. PETERSBURG — Police Chief Tony Holloway has made getting officers out of their cars, walking streets and talking to residents a key plank in his effort to improve relations between his department and the community.But three years into his adminis...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Stolen car crashes in St. Pete, leaving passenger, 15, with life threatening injuries

Two boys in a stolen car struck a dip in the roadway and crashed into a tree, leaving the 15-year-old passenger with life-threatening injuries, St. Petersburg police said.The crash occurred about 11:25 a.m. Sunday as the car sped west on 11th Avenue ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Two unhurt after small plane clips tree during emergency landing in Clearwater (w/ video)

Two unhurt after small plane clips tree during emergency landing in Clearwater (w/ video)

CLEARWATER — Two men walked away unhurt from a small airplane after it clipped a tree and spun around as the pilot tried to make an emergency landing on Keene Road, deputies said.Pilot Marc Benedict, 61, and passenger Gregory Guinee, 55, of Clearwate...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Search suspended for missing Cortez boater who left from Egmont Key

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for a missing 63-year-old boater on Sunday evening, two days after he and his dog were reported missing 5 miles northwest of Mead Point, just inland from Anna Maria Island.On Friday, Fraser Horne of Cortez le...
Updated: 11 hours ago
On the night shift in Seminole Heights, Tampa police keep watch for a killer

On the night shift in Seminole Heights, Tampa police keep watch for a killer

TAMPATampa Police Lt. Gary Neal is almost halfway into his shift when the shots ring out.He jumps into his white 2016 Dodge Charger and races the few blocks from District 3 headquarters to the scene of a drive-by shooting in a city rattled by a strin...
Published: 11/18/17
Tampa couple recounts wrong-way DUI crash on Courtney Campbell Causeway

Tampa couple recounts wrong-way DUI crash on Courtney Campbell Causeway

TAMPA — Police arrested a 26-year-old man they say drove the wrong way while drunk and caused a multi-vehicle crash that injured several people late Friday on the Courtney Campbell Causeway.Collin John Cole faces two counts of driving under the influ...
Published: 11/18/17
Boater missing in waters north of Bradenton, dog found alive

Boater missing in waters north of Bradenton, dog found alive

CORTEZ — The Coast Guard and others are scouring the waters near Mead Point, just inland from Anna Maria Island, for a 63-year-old boater who has been missing since Friday evening. Fraser Horne of Cortez left Egmont Key on his 30-foot boat, Golden Ru...
Published: 11/18/17
Romano: Hunting for a deadly needle in the Seminole Heights haystack

Romano: Hunting for a deadly needle in the Seminole Heights haystack

During the day, you hear from the psychics and the kooks. The well-intentioned tipsters, and the unsolicited profilers. This is all part of serial killer spillover, a sort of cottage industry of macabre.It gets tougher at night when you’re hounded by...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/18/17

Possible wrong-way crash on Courtney Campbell Causeway late Friday

TAMPA — A multi-vehicle crash on the Courtney Campbell Causeway late Friday may have been caused by a driver traveling in the wrong direction, Tampa police said.The crash occurred in the eastbound lanes closer to the Tampa side of the causeway, near ...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/18/17