Three police chases in St. Petersburg end in three arrests

ST. PETERSBURG — Three high-speed pursuits took place within a five-hour span on Wednesday night, authorities said. Three St. Petersburg men were arrested and each case involved drugs or guns.

None of the men behind the wheel were legally allowed to drive, according to state records.

• The first pursuit started at 6:39 p.m. on 28th Street N near 38th Avenue, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. A sergeant driving north spotted a car ahead of him also headed north — but in the southbound lane, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The sergeant then chased the silver Mitsubishi south on 28th Street and east onto 38th Avenue, where deputies said the car ran a red light and weaved through traffic.

Then the car tried to escape onto northbound Interstate 275. The pursuit ended when the Mitsubishi struck a vehicle trying to exit the interstate at 54th Avenue, deputies said.

The driver, Darius J. Phillips, 24, was arrested after a brief foot chase on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, fleeing and eluding, reckless driving and driving with a suspended or revoked license. Deputies said he threw away a .40-caliber handgun while running away.

He was freed from the Pinellas County jail on Thursday after $15,500 bail was posted.

• St. Petersburg police said the second pursuit started a few minutes later, at 7:45 p.m., at 18th Avenue S and 45th Street S.

Officers tried to pull over a tan 2010 Chevy Malibu that had sped away from them last month, police said. But the Malibu sped away again, drove west onto eastbound 18th Avenue S and tried to strike an oncoming police cruiser, authorities said.

Officers briefly lost the vehicle but later found it parked at 5035 Fourth Ave. S. They arrested the driver, 22-year-old Quinton Darnell McKinney, on charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, aggravated fleeing and eluding, possession of crack cocaine with intent to sell and being a habitual offender of driving with a suspended or revoked license.

He was freed from the county jail on Thursday. The bond: $32,150.

• The third pursuit started at 11:55 p.m. Wednesday near the 5100 block of 18th Avenue S.

A St. Petersburg officer and Pinellas deputy — part of the county's new violent crimes task force — pulled over a 1994 Toyota whose brake lights were out. But when they approached the car it drove off, police said, and they started a pursuit.

The pursuit ended when the car crashed into the corner of a home at 5021 17th Ave S., police said. The driver fled, shrugged off a Taser blast and jumped over several fences, before officers tackled him, police said. The home suffered $10,000 damage. But police reports didn't say if the house was occupied at the time.

Jason Christopher Smalls, 36, was arrested on two counts of fleeing and eluding, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident, driving with a license suspended or revoked, possession of cocaine and marijuana, obstruction and three counts of failing to appear in court. He told police he fled because he was scared.

Smalls was jailed Thursday in lieu of $58,339 bail.

Three police chases in St. Petersburg end in three arrests 08/05/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 5, 2011 5:46pm]

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