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Palm Coast Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 7 months ago

Deputy injured during scuffle as suspect resists arrest

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Suspect Leslie Pitter, 42, had been arrested 11 previous times by Flagler County deputies since 2007.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

A suspect in a stalking case fought a deputy who was trying to arrest him, dislocating the deputy's shoulder. The suspect, 42-year-old Leslie Pitter, had been arrested seven previous times since 2007 on charges including resisting arrest, domestic violence, and violation of injunctions for protection.

The incident occurred at about 10:30 p.m. Feb. 14 on the 100 block of Florida Park Drive North, where deputies were trying to take Pitter into custody for violating a protection order in a stalking case.

They were seeking him because he'd called a woman who he wasn't legally allowed to be contacting, telling her he was upset that she hadn't called him on his birthday. He'd also used Facebook messenger to send her, on Feb. 14 — Valentine's Day — an image that said, "Roses are red, violets are blue, this holiday sucks, and so do you!"

The woman told deputies that she feared Pitter and didn't know whey he wouldn't leave her alone.

Two deputies went separately to Pitter's home to arrest him.

When Deputy George Bender arrived, Deputy Phillip Conway already had Pitter on the ground, and, Taser drawn, was ordering him to put his hands behind his back. Pitter was refusing, placing only one hand behind his back at a time.

The two deputies moved in to place handcuffs on Pitter when he had only his left arm behind his back, but Pitter — as deputies repeatedly ordered him to stop resisting — pulled his arms away and rolled over onto his back.

"Don't resist," the deputies said to Pitter. "I'm not resisting," Pitter replied as he wrenched himself away from them.

Conway grabbed Pitter, the two went to the ground, and Pitter threw Deputy Conway over his shoulder. When Conway hit the pavement, the impact dislocated his shoulder and left a laceration on his chin. 

Pitter was screaming at the deputies to explain to him what he'd done. "You gotta explain to me!" he yelled.

"Leslie! Stop resisting," Bender said. "We've got charges on you for a violation of injunction. Relax!"

Pitter kept ranting, yelling that he hadn't violated any injunction.

Conway got up and pulled his Taser while Bender was able to grab both of Pitter's arms and pull them behind Pitter's back, but Pitter kept fighting and yelled out, "I don't f---ing care no more."

Conway used his Taser on Pitter and Pitter fell to the ground, where Bender put handcuffs on him.

Conway told Bender that he needed a medical unit because his shoulder was dislocated. Bender called out a unit to aid Conway and also Pitter, who needed the Taser probes removed from his chest and stomach.

As they waited on the ambulance, Pitter, who was lying on the pavement, yelled several times, "I can't breathe" — echoing the last words of Eric Garner. The deputies let him sit up.

He accused Conway of having wanted to deploy his Taser "from the get-go."

He then taunted the deputies, saying to Conway, "I know you are weak as h---. I just tried you, I'm not threatening you I'm just telling you, you're weak as h---." He also said, "If he didn't come and save you I wold have had your a--." The deputies didn't respond to the provocations.

Conway was taken to Florida Hospital Flagler and had to be sedated for his shoulder to be fixed. He'll recover, but is expected to be off work for some time, according to a Sheriff;s Office news release. 

 Bender wrote up the arrest report on Pitter in Conway's place, beginning it, "I, Deputy Bender, am completing this 707 on behalf of Deputy Conway due to him being injured."

At the county jail after he was treated by the medical unit, Pitter bragged to a commander and a deputy "that he put one of the deputies in the hospital," according to the arrest affidavit.

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly was having a Valentine's Day dinner with his wife when he was notified that one of his deputy's had been injured by a suspect. He responded to the hospital.

“Let me make this clear, if you think you can attack my deputies, we’re going to go after you with the full force of the law,” Staly said in the news release. “This was a simple misdemeanor arrest, and he violently resisted and is now charged with two additional felony charges because he thought he was a tough guy. I hope the prosecutor and the courts throw the book at him and this dirtbag goes away for a long time.”

Pitter faces charges of violation of injunction, resisting arrest with violence and aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer. He is being held on no bond. 

The deputy's body camera videos, which do contain profanity, can be viewed at the following links: Conway's body camera footage; Bender's body camera footage.

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