FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. – A traffic stop by officers with the Fort Walton Beach Police Department (FWBPD) allegedly resulted in the driver dragging police officers with his vehicle, the FWPD said in an announcement.
Antonio Betts, 27, of Fort Walton Beach, has been charged with attempted felony murder, among other charges, the FWBPD said.
According to the FWBPD, this is what happened: On Saturday, February 25, 2023, at approximately 3:17 p.m., FWPD officers reportedly initiated a traffic stop at the intersection of Hughes Street and Oregon Drive for a traffic infraction. During the traffic stop, officers said they attempted to identify the driver.
According to the FWBPD, the driver was later identified as Betts.
While speaking with Betts about his identity, officers said they observed drug paraphernalia in the driver’s door and a knife in the passenger seat. Due to their observations, officers said they asked Betts to exit the vehicle; however, he reportedly refused.
Officers said when they attempted to remove Betts from the vehicle, he trapped one of the officer’s arms and placed his vehicle in drive. As a backup officer attempted to free the trapped officer’s arm, they were reportedly dragged with the vehicle.
The backup officer was able to free the first officer’s arm; however, he reportedly was trapped as the vehicle rapidly accelerated. Allegedly, Betts had taken control of the officer’s shoulder microphone for his radio.
Betts is alleged to have stated to the officer, “You’re going to die today.”
“With this statement, the driver directed his vehicle towards a power pole, lining the vehicle up for a head-on collision and began striking the officer in the face,” the FWBPD said.
“The officer was able to prevent the crash by taking control of the steering wheel and then depressing the break with his foot.”
According to the FWBPD, backup units deployed a taser, and officers took the Betts into custody. Betts was allegedly in possession of illegal narcotics and found to have outstanding felony warrants once he was identified, the FWBPD said.
In addition to attempted felony murder, Betts has been charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, fleeing and eluding, possession of a controlled substance, false name while lawfully detained, resisting arrest without violence, and depriving law enforcement officer means of communication, the FWBPD said in its statement.
The officers and Betts were treated at the Fort Walton Destin Medical Center for minor injuries, the FWBPD said.