A central Florida couple was arrested after police say they rammed an officer, tried to run over a K-9 and his handler and broke into the Haines City Mayor’s home on Monday.
A Haines City Police Officer was patrolling at about 2 a.m. when a blue 2003 Toyota was seen parked at a construction site. When the driver, 31-year-old Matthew Swett, saw the officer, he reportedly jumped into the vehicle and drove directly at the officer who was in his patrol car with emergency lights on.
Police say Swett intentionally rammed the car, causing damage to the front end.
A K-9 officer and his partner were able to find the suspect vehcile as it exited onto Old Polk City Rd. After a short pursuit, police say the car ran into a ditch and stopped.
Their commands were ignored by Swett and he put the car in reverse, intentionally driving toward the officer and K-9, police said.
Seeing what was about to happen, the officer used the leash to pull K-9 Cash away from the accelerating vehicle into his arms, and ran, with Cash in his arms, to avoid being run over. Thanks to his quick action, K-9 Cash was not injured.
Swett continued backward and struck another patrol vehicle causing damage to the front end then drove off at a high rate of speed before crashing in the area of Prado Grande Avenue and Old Polk City Road, authorities say.
Swett and 32-year-old Kaila Ellig exited the vehicle and ran into a wooded area. Shortly after, officials say the vehicle caught fire.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office assisted with tracking the suspects and implementing a perimeter. The Aviation Unit from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office provided air support.
The suspects ultimately climbed over a fence and cut a hole to access the back screened-in porch area of an occupied home in the Randa Ridge subdivision belonging to Haines City Mayor, Morris West. The Osceola aviation observer was able to see Swett concealing an object in the front of his pants and notified officers and deputies on the ground.
At that point, officers once again directed Swett to peacefully surrender. Swett refused, continually reaching into his waistband and ignoring commands to exit with his hands visible, police say.
K-9 Cash was released to apprehend Swett, who was bitten on the leg, allowing the officers to physically secure him. A large fixed blade knife was found in Swett’s waistband. Ellig cooperated and was arrested without further incident, officials say.
“I am thankful we have such a professional Police Department who literally work day and night to protect our city,” Mayor West said. “Our officers and their county partners showed tenacious resolve to stay on the heels of these suspects and bring this to a peaceful conclusion.”
Swett was also in possession of prescription drugs, for which he has no prescription, at the time of the apprehension. He was transported to AdventHealth Heart of Florida to be treated for the dog bite. He was released and taken to the Polk County Jail.
Neither the vehicle nor the tag were registered to the suspects. Swett has not had a valid driver’s license since 2017.
According to police, Swett’s criminal history includes robbery, burglary, dealing in stolen property, drug, and driving offenses. Ellig has been charged in the past with grand theft, fraud, and drug possession.
“This was fantastic police work by our officers and surrounding law enforcement partners,” Interim Chief Loyd Stewart said. “Because of their efforts, no one was seriously hurt and one very dangerous man and his accomplice are in jail.”
Swett is being charged with armed burglary, two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, use of a deadly weapon on a police K9, fleeing to elude, leaving the scene of a crash, criminal mischief, driving on a suspended license, resisting arrest without violence, driving an unregistered vehicle and possession of Buprenorphine.
Ellig is charged with burglary of an occupied structure and resisting arrest without violence.