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Steep drop injures officer and suspect
Red-light incident leads to foot pursuit that knocks out Spotsylvania man, hurts Fredericksburg police officer

Date published: 12/13/2012

BY KEITH EPPS

A Spotsylvania County man was briefly knocked out and a Fredericksburg police officer was injured following a wild incident that began when the suspect ran a red light, police said.

City police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said the incident began at 11:57 p.m. Tuesday at the U.S. 1 Bypass and College Avenue. Officer Ryan Merrell tried to stop a black Mitsubishi that went through a red light while heading north on U.S. 1.

Police said the driver sped up before turning into the nearby Stratford Square apartment complex. Toward the rear of the parking lot, the driver got out of the car and ran, Bledsoe said.

Merrell, 26, quickly ran down the suspect and grabbed him near a retaining wall. The man stepped over the wall as soon as the officer got a hold on him, dragging Merrell along for a 12-foot drop in the section of the apartment complex closest to Fredericksburg Shopping Center.

Bledsoe said it appeared that neither the suspect nor the officer were aware of the steep drop.

Officers responding for backup found the suspect unconscious at the base of the wall. Merrell was also on the ground, with an injured shoulder. Both were taken to Mary Washington Hospital.

Tavaras Davaughn Walls, 38, was charged with driving while intoxicated, fourth offense; driving on a revoked license; driving intoxicated while revoked; eluding police and running a red light.

He was also charged with possession of marijuana after a baggie fell out of his clothes at the hospital, Bledsoe said.

Walls, who regained consciousness before getting to the hospital, was released from the hospital Wednesday morning and placed in the Rappahannock Regional Jail under no bond.

He was driving his girlfriend's car, police said.

Bledsoe said Merrell's injuries are not severe, but it was not clear when he would be able to return to work.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404
Email: kepps@freelancestar.com