Man gets away by stealing deputy's car

He pepper-sprays two deputies who stopped him for speeding on a motorcycle.

By JUSTIN GEORGE, Times Staff Writer
Published January 11, 2008

TAMPA -- Hillsborough County deputies often arrest people for car theft, but on Thursday they encountered a man who took it to a whole new level — stealing the car of the people arresting him.

Here’s how they say it happened:

Around 6 p.m. Deputy Kevin Bennett spotted a man on a motorcycle speeding and popping wheelies on Gunn Highway.

The deputy followed the 2007 Honda CVR as the rider turned into the Logan Gate subdivision.

Bennett flashed his lights to pull him over, and the cyclist did a quick U-turn into a yard and lost control.

Bennett and Deputy John Footman, who arrived as backup, jumped out of their cars and wrestled with the 5-foot-8, 180-pound cyclist.

As they handcuffed him, the man pulled out pepper spray and squirted both deputies in the face. But the deputies finally corralled the man and put him into the back of Footman’s patrol car.

The deputies’ eyes were burning and they called for help, after which Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and two more deputies arrived.

One of the deputies noticed the handcuffed man complaining of chest pains while lying in the back of the patrol car.

So Deputy Henry Alvarez called over paramedics, who took the man out of the back of the car to treat him.

As they helped, the man shoved past the paramedics and Alvarez, and jumped into the front seat of the patrol car he had been in.

Alvarez jumped in the front, too, and tried to turn the car off or yank the keys out of the ignition. But the man hit the gas and dragged Alvarez about 75 feet before the deputy let go.

Footman, seeing all this, ran and jumped on where Alvarez had been. Just as the patrol car was about to hit a pole, Footman fell off.

The man raced through three fences at Logan Gate Park, then bailed out as the car jumped an embankment. Deputies think he stole a truck and fled.

Deputies identified the man as Walter John Brois III, 36, of Tampa. He has several outstanding warrants, including grand theft auto, false imprisonment and kidnapping, in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Orange counties.

Alvarez was treated at a hospital for back pain, but the injury was not serious, sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

State arrest records show Brois has been arrested more than 25 times. Under occupation, jail records in 2006 listed him as the owner of American Recovery.

It’s a repossession firm.

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.