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Tampa police officer injured in crash after suspect flees, runs stop sign

TAMPA — A Tampa police officer was in serious condition Sunday after a driver left a traffic stop and later ran a stop sign where police say the two vehicles collided.

At 3:30 a.m., Sgt. Robert Nassief attempted to stop a silver Ford Expedition at Hillsborough Avenue and 43rd Street, police said. The driver slowed but made a quick U-turn, speeding away from the police car.

Police gave this account of the incident: Nassief, 52, radioed the vehicle description and deactivated his emergency lights. Nassief headed east on Hanna Avenue, searching for the driver. At 39th Street, the suspect's southbound vehicle sped through a stop sign.

Nassief's patrol car struck the suspect's SUV at the intersection of 39th Street and Hanna Avenue, flipping it and sending the cruiser sliding into a parked vehicle.

Nassief, who has been with the department for 29 years, was removed from his vehicle and taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he was in critical condition. Police later updated his condition to serious but stable.

Nassief was set to retire within a year, police said, and he had been the supervisor of Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab when they were shot to death last year during a traffic stop.

Police identified the driver of the other vehicle as Desmond Smith, 25, of Tampa. Smith and his passengers, Carlos Johnson, 26, and Devon Johnson, 27, both of Tampa, were taken to the hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries.

Once released from the hospital, Smith will be charged with aggravated fleeing or eluding, driving with a suspended license and running a stop sign, police said.

Smith was arrested in 2006 on a domestic violence battery charge and again in 2010 on a warrant for driving with an invalid license, jail records show.

Tampa police officer injured in crash after suspect flees, runs stop sign 09/04/11 [Last modified: Sunday, September 4, 2011 9:11pm]
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