Florida couple rams patrol vehicles before breaking into mayor’s home, police say

Suspect accused of driving straight at officer, K-9

Matthew Swett and Kaila Ellig
Matthew Swett and Kaila Ellig (Haines City Police Department)

HAINES CITY, Fla. – Haines City police say a couple drove straight at an officer, rammed two patrol vehicles and broke into a Florida mayor’s home while trying to evade authorities.

Records show Officer William Tucker was patrolling around 2 a.m. Monday when he spotted a blue 2003 Toyota parked at a construction site and when 31-year-old Matthew Swett saw Tucker, he jumped into the Toyota and drove directly at Tucker, who was in his patrol car, and intentionally struck the vehicle.

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K-9 Officer Joseph Elam and his partner Cash then took over following Swett, who was still in the Toyota with 32-year-old Kaila Ellig, according to the department.

Police said Elam followed the suspects onto Old Polk City Road and after a short pursuit, they crashed into a ditch. Elam deployed Cash on a leash when he heard the door of the Toyota open but the suspects ignored Elam’s commands and instead Swett put the vehicle in reverse and drove straight at Elam and Cash, striking the dog in the process, records show.

Elam was able to pull Cash back by the leash, grab him in his arms and run away before they could be run over, according to authorities. Elam and Cash weren’t injured.

From there, Swett is accused of ramming Elam’s patrol vehicle as he sped off before crashing in the area of Prado Grande Avenue and Old Polk City Road.

Police said Swett and Ellig got out of the Toyota and ran into a wooded area not long before the vehicle caught fire.

With law enforcement personnel from three agencies searching for them, Swett and Ellig climbed over a fence and cut a hole in order to break into a screened-in porch at Haines City Mayor Morris West’s occupied home in the Randa Ridge subdivision, according to a news release.

Officer Justin Vasquez, Elam and his partner Cash went to the occupied home to convince the two to surrender but Swett ignored commands to exit peacefully and repeatedly reached for his waistband, records show.

Police said Cash was deployed and bit Swett on the leg, which then allowed officers to take him into custody. He’s accused of having a knife in his waistband.

Ellig cooperated and was taken into custody without further incident, according to authorities.

“I am thankful we have such a professional Police Department who literally work day and night to protect our city,” West said. “Our officers and their county partners showed tenacious resolve to stay on the heels of these suspects and bring this to a peaceful conclusion.”

Swett, of Intercession City, is facing charges of armed burglary, two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, use of a deadly weapon on a police K9, fleeing to elude, leaving the scene of a crash, criminal mischief, driving on a suspended license, resisting arrest without violence, driving an unregistered vehicle and possession of Buprenorphine.

Ellig, of Davenport, is accused of burglary of an occupied structure and resisting arrest without violence.

“This was fantastic police work by our officers and surrounding law enforcement partners,” interim chief of the Haines City Police Department Loyd Stewart said. “Because of their efforts, no one was seriously hurt and one very dangerous man and his accomplice are in jail.”

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