ST. GEORGE — What started with a routine traffic stop on a vehicle with a headlight out ended with an arrest on the driver for assaulting a police officer Saturday night in St. George.
Stavontae Tareece Gilliard, 24, of Oregon, was pulled over for the headlight violation at about 11 p.m. on River Road and did not have a driver’s license or proof of insurance, according to police. Gilliard said he didn’t have his license or insurance card because his wallet was recently stolen, so the responding officer called his insurance company, who said his insurance was canceled months ago.
When the St. George Police officer told Gilliard that his vehicle was going to be impounded for not having insurance, Gilliard refused to get out of the vehicle, according to the probable cause statement. He then allegedly put the car into gear as the officer told him he was under arrest and asked him to exit the car.
That’s when Gilliard started driving away, the statement says. As the vehicle started to roll away, the rear driver side wheel ran over another police officer’s foot, causing him to fall to the ground.
The first police officer reached into the driver’s side window and tried to place his hands on Gilliard’s hands to prevent him from driving away.
“As the vehicle was moving, I tried to keep my right arm on Stavontae, and with my left hand, I reached around the steering wheel to turn off the car,” wrote the responding officer on the probable cause statement. “When the vehicle was moving, I had to lift my legs off the ground and keep my body in the vehicle.”
Gilliard allegedly drove about 20 mph with the officer sticking out of his window. Each time the officer’s feet dropped to the ground, he became worried his legs would get caught under the car.
“I knew at the time I could not release the vehicle because I felt I would be seriously injured,” the responding officer wrote.
The police officer was able to reach around to the key and turn off the car, but Gilliard turned it back on. The officer was then able to turn off the car by turning the key again and open the driver side door, according to the probable cause statement. Gilliard was able to drive about 450 feet before his vehicle was stopped for the last time.
Gilliard began reaching for the passenger side, so the officer wrapped his arms around him to prevent him from grabbing anything or driving off again.
The officer who had his foot run over used a stun gun on Gilliard, which allowed the officers to pull him from the car and onto the street. He allegedly continued to push back against the officers and refused to put his arms behind his back so he could be arrested. It took another shock from the stun gun before officers were able to grab his arms and place him in handcuffs, according to the probable cause statement.
Gilliard was then taken to Purgatory Correctional Facility and was charged with a second-degree felony for assaulting a police officer, as well as misdemeanors for failing to stop at an officer’s command and interfering with arrest. There were also citations against him for not having a driver’s license, operating a vehicle without insurance and for having a headlight out.
St. George Police officer Lona Trombley said both officers “are doing well” after the arrest.
This report is based on statements from police and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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