July 29, 2014

CMPD officer dragged after traffic stop

The officer reportedly was dragged about a block by the vehicle, according to witnesses.

A police officer conducting a traffic stop Tuesday was dragged across a busy north Charlotte intersection by a suspect who investigators say grabbed the officer’s arm and sped off.

The car dragged Officer Richard Starnes for about a block before the suspect let go of the arm. Starnes had scrapes and bruises, and his leg was broken when it was run over by the car’s tire, but the injuries are not life-threatening, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Maj. Jeff Estes.

Police officers stopped the suspect vehicle a short distance away on Interstate 85. It was unclear how many people inside were arrested or charged. Police have not released the suspects’ names. Television news crews captured images of five suspects in handcuffs being led into CMPD headquarters.

The dragging incident was reported about 12:45 p.m. at the Raceway station on Reagan Drive at West Sugar Creek Road.

Police say Starnes, a motorcycle officer, was assisting another officer who had been flagged down by a woman who said she had been assaulted. The woman pointed out a Nissan Sentra, which Starnes pulled over.

Estes said it wasn’t a felony traffic stop. “It wasn’t like guns out or anything.” he said.

During the stop, Estes said, “the person grabbed the officer’s arm.”

The car sped across the intersection, past the Brookwood Inn and toward the I-85 service road. The suspect released Starnes and the officer rolled to a stop.

Jessica Niilend said the speeding car caught her attention as she stood in the parking lot of the motel.

“You could see the police officer just holding on,” Niilend said. “It wasn’t an accident. You could tell he was trying to let go of the window. He finally let him go around that second curve.”

The officer’s boot and sock came off, Niilend said. “He was just laying there. An ice cream truck pulled over to the side and the driver got out. I could see the officer waving his arms. One of them was skinned and burned.” The Observer’s Todd Sumlin contributed.

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