SALT LAKE CITY — A Unified Police Department officer was hit by a fleeing driver during an investigation of a suspicious vehicle Monday night.
The officer, who was checking on suspicious activity in the area, suffered cuts and bruises after being hit by the car that he said drove right at him. Sgt. Melody Cutler said the suspect, identified as Michael Rodriquez, pulled the car into an apartment complex and turned the lights off before reclining the seat back.
Thinking the car was abandoned, the officer approached on foot, leading Rodriguez, 26, to sit up and drive towards the officer. Although the officer was able to jump out of the way of the vehicle, he was clipped in the leg.
“He could have gone around the officer, very easily could’ve gone backwards, could’ve gone to the other side of him, but instead chose to drive directly at the officer," said Cutler.
Another officer attempted to stop the vehicle, but the Rodriguez fled and a pursuit began. Rodriguez later crashed into a pole in a parking lot at 3900 S. State Street and continued to flee on foot.
A police K9 was deployed and Rodriguez was eventually taken into custody with the use of a taser and now faces multiple felony charges, including aggravated assault on a police officer, violating parole and possession of methamphetamine.
The injured officer was treated at the hospital and released.