A routine traffic stop turned violent Tuesday when a man and a woman attacked an officer investigating why their vehicle was stopped in a roadway, police said.
Tarpon Springs police Officer Clyde Thornton beeped his horn, then flashed his cruiser's lights as he tried to coax the driver of a stopped Ford to move from the middle of Oakwood Street shortly after noon, police said.
Getting no response, the officer approached the car, but the driver, a man, and his passenger, a woman, exited on the passenger side. When Thornton asked the driver for his license, the man said it was suspended. Thornton detained him by handcuffing him.
The man then lunged at Thornton and the two struggled, police said. The man then broke away and told the woman passenger to get back to the car, police said.
Thornton grabbed her, and she struck him in the face with her elbow, according to reports. Thornton fought back, causing a cut over her right eye and then subduing her, police said. The man tried to hit Thornton again, then fled on foot. Back-up officers called to the scene caught and arrested him nearby on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, police said.
Police later said they found cocaine and drug paraphernalia in the Ford.
Police identified the driver as Charles D. Freeman, 44, and his passenger as Roxann Leah Eagly. Police reported no permanent address for either.
They were taken into custody and treated at Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital. Freeman had minor abrasions and scratches. Eagly needed stitches for the cut above her eye.
Thornton, 34, who has been with the department since November 1991, suffered only minor injuries.
"He was pretty shook up," Sgt. Jeff Young. "He had to fight for his life as two people were trying to fight him in a routine traffic stop."
Both Freeman and Eagly face charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence, cocaine possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Freeman also faces charges of driving with a suspended license and providing a false name. Both were held Wednesday in the Pinellas County Jail.