OCOEE, Fla. – Windermere Sgt. Mark Destefano was sore after his car was struck in a hit-and-run exactly one week ago.
"I'm sorry for what happened to the officer," said Scott Mitchell, the man now accused in the crime, as Mitchell walked toward jail Tuesday.
A week after the crash, Windermere Chief David Ogden announced that police had made an arrest in the case.
Mitchell, 49, was taken into custody in Lake County, thanks to the combined efforts of the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Lake County Sheriff's Office, Ocoee Police Department and Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks, authorities said.
"It wasn't right,” Mitchell said. “I was scared for my safety. I was scared for my well-being. But I didn't hit the officer. He pulled in front of me.”
Destefano was hit July 11 while driving on State Road 50.
"I would never, ever ram an officer or commit any (act) of violence against an officer,” Mitchell said. “I don't recall hitting another person. As you can see (in) my face, I did suffer head injuries. I'm sorry."
Shortly after the crash, a nearby deputy saw the suspect's pickup truck traveling recklessly down State Road 50, but was unaware that the driver had been involved in a hit-and-run, police said.
The driver proceeded to crash into another car near Hiawassee Road and kept driving until abandoning the car in the Pine Hills area, authorities said. An arrest warrant was then put out for Mitchell after the deputy was able to positively identify him as the owner of the 2004 Chevrolet Colorado.
"I was on no drugs, no alcohol -- nothing,” Mitchell said. “One second he wasn't there, the next second he was there. I'm sorry."