ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – In the most recent incident of illegal ATV activity, a rider is accused of dragging a deputy several feet, then displaying his middle finger and later blowing him a kiss, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
The deputy said he was conducting patrol in a high-crime area on Oak Ridge Road around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday when he saw two men and a woman smoking near an ATV and dirt bike that were parked near a dumpster.
As the deputy approached, a man, later identified as Angel Morales, hopped on the ATV and started it, ignoring the deputy's commands to stop, according to the report.
Authorities said the deputy grabbed onto Morales in an attempt to stop him but the suspect accelerated, hitting the deputy's left leg and knocking him off balance.
When the deputy tried to get out of the way, a ring on his left hand got stuck on a broken necklace that Morales was wearing, causing the deputy to be dragged behind the ATV, according to the affidavit.
Officials said the deputy was dragged for nearly 10 feet before he became untangled and at that point, Morales turned around and displayed his middle finger at the deputy.
The deputy then turned his attention to Alex Acevedo and Juliana Diaz, who had been attempting to start the dirt bike. Authorities said the two fled before the injured deputy could stop them.
The deputy radioed in descriptions of the suspects, and a short time later, authorities found them in an area where ATV and dirt bike riders are known to hang out, according to the affidavit.
The report said Diaz and Acevedo were taken into custody at gunpoint. Morales was hiding in the backyard of a home on West Oak Ridge Road and when he tried to flee from law enforcement officers, he crashed the ATV into a tree, according to authorities.
Deputies said Morales was arrested after a foot pursuit.
When the injured deputy showed up at the scene to verify that Morales was the man who hit him with the ATV, Morales "mockingly puckered his lips" and blew the deputy a kiss, the report said.
The report did not say to what extent the deputy was injured, although he did note that he was experiencing pain in his left arm and his leg.
Morales was arrested on charges of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, aggravated fleeing and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, two counts of burglary of a structure with a motor vehicle, resisting an officer with violence and criminal mischief.
Acevedo and Diaz both face charges of fleeing and attempting to elude law enforcement officer, one count of burglary of a dwelling and resisting without violence.
A judge revoked Morales' bond Thursday, who was already out on bond for a previous arrest, according to court records. A judge set bond for Acevedo and Diaz at $10,200 each.
Deputies said this incident is part of a larger problem of illegal ATV activity in Central Florida. Earlier this week, they released video of a group of ATV riders making an illegal U-turn on Florida's Turnpike and causing a crash.
Capt. Carlos Torres said this type of behavior won't be tolerated.
“Our goal is to keep everybody safe and if there are these individuals that are committing these types of acts, they’re terrorizing our public, we’re going to enforce the law," Torres said Tuesday. "We’re going to use any and all available means to keep the public safe."
Anyone with information about people driving recklessly on off-road vehicles is asked to contact law enforcement officials.