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    Officials: Deputy dragged as driver flees

    The driver pushed one deputy away and drove away with another hanging on to the side of the car, according to a report.

    By ROBERT FARLEY

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 28, 2001


    PALM HARBOR -- A 21-year-old Tarpon Springs man was charged with assault on a law enforcement officer after driving away and briefly dragging a deputy who was trying to arrest him on charges he took food from Taco Bell without paying, according to arrest reports.

    Richard Thomas Fisk Jr. was arrested after crashing his pickup truck into a concrete light fixture on Westlake Boulevard Monday night, deputies say.

    According to a sheriff's report, Fisk ordered four chicken soft tacos and an order of nachos from the Taco Bell drive-through on U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor. When he pulled up to the window, he grabbed the bag and drove away without paying the $6.38 bill, the report states.

    A patrol deputy caught up with Fisk's 1995 Mitsubishi pickup truck at the corner of U.S. 19 and Fox Chase Boulevard, said sheriff's office spokesman Cal Dennie.

    With a Taco Bell bag sitting on the seat next to him, Dennie said Fisk admitted that he had no money and grabbed the food and drove away without paying. Sheriff's Sgt. Robert Squitieri informed Fisk he was being placed under arrest for retail theft. While sitting in his truck, Fisk pushed Squitieri so he could drive away, the report states.

    Another deputy tried to reach in turn off the motor when Fisk put the truck in gear and sped away, Dennie said. The deputy's right arm was still in the truck, and Fisk dragged him a short distance alongside the truck. The deputy suffered a bruise on his right arm, the report states.

    Deputies spotted Fisk's pickup on Belcher Road near Alderman Road. Dennie said cruisers followed about 300 feet behind Fisk onto Westlake Boulevard, where Fisk was going about 45 mph. At the intersection with Village Way, Fisk's truck struck a concrete light pole in the median and knocked it down.

    Deputies noted that Fisk was "moving around in the cab, smoking a cigarette," Dennie said. When deputies approached, Fisk refused to get out of the truck, Dennie said. The driver's window was slightly opened, so a deputy shot pepper spray into the cab. Fisk opened the door immediately and fell to the ground.

    Fisk was charged with aggravated battery with a motor vehicle, resisting a law enforcement officer with violence, battery on a law enforcement officer and retail theft.

    Fisk, who works for a labor company, lives with his father, Deputy Richard Fisk Sr., a 20-year employee of the Sheriff's Office who is now the school resource officer at Palm Harbor University High School. The younger Fisk was being held at the Pinellas County jail Tuesday in lieu of $40,500 bail.

    - Staff writer Robert Farley can be reached at (727) 445-4185 or farley@sptimes.com.

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