When a Haines City police officer walked outside Saturday evening to find out see what had made the loud noise he just heard, police said he found Gary Anderson on top of a riding lawn mower in the parking lot.
The officer said the 68-year-old Anderson then told him three things:
He had just struck the officer's police cruiser.
There was no damage to the police cruiser.
Anderson was drunk.
TALES OF THE SUNSHINE STATE:
The 68-year-old man then started laughing, police. Then he took a more aggressive posture toward the officer.
Let's rewind: The incident took place about 7 p.m. while the Haines City police cruiser was parked outside Rodriguez Fashion Convenience Store at 1100 U.S. 17.
The officer was inside, then went back out. There, police said, he found Anderson on a riding lawn mower towing a black trailer with a red-and-white cooler inside. The officer also saw damage to the police vehicle's bumper.
Anderson was taken into custody and driven to the Haines City Police Department, the agency said, but then said he had been poisoned by officers. He asked to be taken to a hospital. So officers took him to Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center in Davenport.
There, Anderson also agreed to a Breathalyzer exam. It revealed that his blood-alcohol level was 0.241, slightly more than three times the level at which Florida law presumes a driver is impaired.
Police added that a blood test revealed cocaine in Anderson's system.
Anderson, however, accused the police of putting cocaine in his system.
Officers also learned that Anderson's driver's license had been suspended since the Carter Administration — March 1978, to be precise — and he also used racial slurs against officers. He has been convicted of DUI twice, police said.
Anderson was arrested on charges of committing his third DUI offense in 10 years and refusing to submit to a DUI test with a suspended license. He was being held in the Polk County jail late Monday in lieu of $3,000 bail.
"I'm proud of the professional demeanor our officers showed when dealing with this heavily-intoxicated, belligerent offender," Haines City police Chief Jim Elensky said in a statement. "It's never a good idea to get behind the wheel drunk, even if that wheel is to a Craftsman, Massey Ferguson or John Deere."
Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @danuscripts.