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Tampa police chase ends with crash into sandwich shop

Police tried to pull over Frankie Leonard early Friday because the tint on his Ford Expedition appeared to be too dark.

ATOYIA DEANS | Times

Police tried to pull over Frankie Leonard early Friday because the tint on his Ford Expedition appeared to be too dark.

TAMPA — An SUV crashed through the front door of a sandwich shop near 22nd Street and E Giddens Avenue early Friday after a short police chase, authorities said.

Around 8 a.m., an officer tried to pull over a maroon Ford Expedition driven by Frankie Leonard, 49, near E River Cove and Alaska streets because its window tint appeared illegally dark, said police spokeswoman Andrea Davis.

Leonard refused to stop, continuing to drive about 20 mph, Davis said. The officer called for backup and the two officers tried to box in the Expedition. The driver accelerated, rammed one of the cruisers twice and drove off, Davis said.

Police chased the sport utility vehicle east on Hillsborough Avenue, where Leonard pulled into a Walgreens, crossed Giddens Avenue into a parking lot, lost control and skidded into the front door of a Quizno's restaurant.

Leonard refused to leave the vehicle after the crash, Davis said. One officer positioned himself near the front of the vehicle, Davis said, and saw Leonard reach into his glove compartment. Fearing he was reaching for a weapon, three other officers broke a back window and pulled Leonard from the car.

Three of the officers cut their hands breaking the Expedition's window, but Leonard was not injured.

Officers said they handcuffed Leonard and sat him on a nearby curb, when he started banging his head against the concrete, Davis said. They moved him to a nearby patch of grass, and he started eating the grass.

Leonard, who lives at 1611 Louisiana Ave., will be booked at the Hillsborough County Jail on charges of battery on an officer and fleeing police, Davis said.

He has 60 prior charges with the Tampa Police Department, Davis said, including aggravated battery and fleeing to elude.

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Leonard has spent a total of about seven years in prison beginning in 1978 for convictions including homicide, robbery, grand theft, cocaine possession, grand theft of a motor vehicle and battery on a law enforcement officer.

Tampa police chase ends with crash into sandwich shop 02/19/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 19, 2010 11:47pm]

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