Florida deputy dragged during traffic stop

VERO BEACH, Fla. - A traffic stop takes a dangerous turn after the driver of the vehicle takes off, dragging the deputy with him.

It happened on August 11, about 3:30 a.m., Indian River County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Bell was
conducting a traffic stop on County Road 512, between Fellsemere and I-95. One of the passengers in the car, Andrew Coffee Sr., 33, was being arrested for a drug possession charge when he broke from Deputy Bell’s grip and got back in the car as the driver, later identified as Wesley Clark, 28, drove away.

As the driver fled the scene of the traffic stop, Deputy Bell was attempting to restrain Coffee and as a result, Deputy Bell was dragged several feet and nearly run over by the car’s rear tire.

Deputy Bell followed the vehicle to the entrance to Vero Lake Estates at 101st Avenue and C.R. 512 where it had crashed into a sign. Coffee and the drive fled the scene on foot and a female
passenger remained with the car.

A search of the area by deputies and a K-9 officer from the Sebastian Police Department resulted
in Coffee being arrested in the 9000 block of 101st Court.

Andrew Coffee IV, 19, was stopped by the Sebastian Police Department in the area of the 9000 block of 101st Court as Sebastian officers were assisting with the search for Coffee Sr.

Coffee IV was found to have an app on his cell phone which allowed him to hear the law
enforcement radio traffic of deputies searching for his father. Coffee IV told deputies that he heard his father had been shot and was in the area to look for him.

Deputies believe it is more likely that Coffee Sr. was in contact with his son and the two were attempting to arrange for Coffee Sr. to be picked up to avoid capture.

Coffee Sr. was arrested and charged with resisting arrest without violence, possession of marijuana under 20 grams, giving a false name while detained, theft (for taking the deputy’s handcuffs), and tampering or destroying evidence. He was arrested and booked into the county jail. He posted $23,000 bond and was released Monday afternoon.

Arrest warrants for Wesley Clark for aggravated battery on law enforcement officer with deadly weapon, flee and elude, and leaving scene of accident with property damage have been issued.

Anyone with information about Clark’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office at 772-978-6240. Those wishing to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward up to $1,000, can provide information through Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-8477 or www.tcwatch.org. Please refer to Indian River County Sheriff’s Office
case number 2013-126037.

Coffee IV, was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice and unlawful use of police communications. He is being held in the Indian River County Jail on $500 bond.

Deputy Bell suffered minor injuries in the form of scrapes and abrasions on his face, forearm, and knee as a result of being dragged.

"He did have some scrapes and scratches on his face and on his right arm and his leg. It certainly could've been a lot worse," said Thomas Raulen, spokesman for the Indian River County Sheriff's Office.

By Miranda Grossman