LAKELAND, Fla. - A Lakeland police officer was dragged through a CVS Pharmacy parking lot after a suspect drove off from a traffic stop along George Jenkins Boulevard. Even as he was hanging on to the car, officer Michael Glass was still able to draw his handgun and fire a shot into the vehicle.
The bullet missed. But the Chevy Avalanche careened off three parked cars before colliding head on with a light pole. James H. Black, Jr., 39, was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Glass was thrown from the vehicle after impact, but he's expected to recover.
George Adams of Ontario, Canada, said he heard noise outside the CVS. He said a woman came inside crying and yelling.
"She said somebody smashed my car, and I walked out," Adams said. Then he spotted his car. "Mine's all smashed too!" he exclaimed.
Lakeland Community Response Team officers and Special Investigations Unit officers were working a joint operation, and based on traffic violations, decided to stop Black's car. Police said he initially cooperated by handing over his driver's license, but suddenly drove away.
Judy Muhlenkamp is a snowbird, and was not expecting to have her ride back up north towed away to a body shop.
"We're going back to Ohio in three weeks, and we need a car," Muhlenkamp said.
Muhlenkamp said there was a group of customers outside the CVS that could easily have been hit by the out-of-control car, but fortunately it swerved in the opposite direction.
"I like to do my shopping in the daytime, because I'm scared to do it at night," she said. "Now the daytime is a little scary."
Officer Glass is on administrative leave pending an investigation, as is the department's policy.
On Friday, Black was released from Lakeland Regional Medical Center and is currently at Polk County Jail.
He has been charged with Attempted 1st degree murder of a Law Enforcement Officer. Other charges are pending.
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