MELBOURNE, Fla. – A man who was high on marijuana ran 17 stop signs, drove through front yards and nearly rammed a patrol vehicle during a high-speed pursuit, according to the Melbourne Police Department.
Police said they were patrolling on University Boulevard around 9 p.m. Sept. 15 when they noticed a 1998 Toyota Camry roll through a stop sign and make a wide turn, leading them to believe the driver was impaired. Records show the driver also couldn’t maintain a single lane.
Officers activated their patrol lights and sirens and attempted to pull the car over but the driver, identified as Dontavis Dotson, sped up and continued driving with his headlights off at a high rate of speed, according to the affidavit.
Authorities said Dotson drove through a yard and then the second time he did that, they tried to cut him off on the other side to contain him, but Dotson sped directly toward the patrol vehicle in an attempt to ram it, forcing the officer to slam on the brakes to avoid a crash.
Records show the pursuit continued after that until Dotson got out of the vehicle while it was still rolling, causing it to hit a Palm Bay Police Department vehicle, and ran away as officers shouted commands for him to stop.
Dotson ran onto the campus of Stone Middle School and jumped over two fences before an officer stunned him with a Taser, according to the report.
Police said they were then able to place Dotson in handcuffs and that’s when they noticed he smelled like marijuana, his speech was slurred, his eyes were bloodshot and there was a plastic baggie of marijuana in his pocket.
During a search of the Camry, police said they found a baggie containing fentanyl and an open bottle of Crown Royal under the driver’s seat.
Dotson is accused of running 17 stop signs and multiple red lights during the pursuit.
As officers notified him that they would be conducting a DUI investigation, Dotson told them, “I already told you guys I was driving under the influence of weed,” records show.
Lt. Trevor Shaffer explained why police decided to not backoff from the pursuit.
“Anytime we have a vehicle chase, we try to use risk-mitigation techniques to decide whether or not it’s worth it. In this case, we were able to do it safely without endangering the public,” Shaffer said.
Dotson faces charges of fleeing and eluding, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with a motor vehicle, DUI, DUI with property damage and resisting an officer without violence.
He faced a judge for the first time on Thursday and has been in the Brevard County Jail ever since.