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Friday, April 9, 2021

Leesburg man charged with trying to run down deputy

Akeem Jahrod Rich

A Leesburg man with a history of fleeing during traffic stops is accused of trying to run down a Lake County sheriff’s deputy who had him pulled over outside his apartment recently.

Akeem Jahrod Rich, 35, of 425 S 9th St. Apt. 15, was charged with fleeing and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer with disregard of safety to persons and property, aggravated assault on an officer, fleeing/eluding by failing to obey a law enforcement officer order to stop, resisting an officer with violence, and driving with a suspended license (habitual offender).

Rich was previously charged in February with fleeing/eluding and driving with a suspended license. He has three other prior arrests since 2017 on charges including domestic battery, leaving the scene of an accident and criminal mischief.

The latest incident started March 10 when a deputy clocked Rich going 78 mph in a 55-mph zone on County Road 33 just north of Bridges Road. The deputy conducted a traffic stop and asked Rich for his driver’s license. Rich said, “yeah,” and rolled his window down all the way with what appeared to be a license in his hand, according to the sheriff’s office report.

When the deputy went to reach for it, Rich said, “how ‘bout next time,” and spun his tires in the dirt, causing them to squeal when they hit the pavement. He took off northbound towards Leesburg, the report said.

On March 12, the deputy contacted a Leesburg Police officer with the tag number of the vehicle and asked if she was familiar with one of the female registered owners. The officer said she had recently dealt with the owner and her boyfriend. The officer sent the deputy information about the boyfriend, who was identified as Rich, according to the report.

Another deputy reported that Rich had run from him during a traffic stop in September and confirmed he was the same person pulled over this time.  A records search showed Rich’s license was suspended 16 times before being canceled indefinitely in October 2020, the report said.

A probable cause warrant was issued on March 22, and deputies responded to Rich’s residence on Monday to arrest him. A deputy saw Rich’s vehicle outside the apartment and Rich in the driver’s seat. As the vehicle started to leave, the deputy pulled up and placed his patrol vehicle’s bumper to the front of Rich’s front bumper, according to the report.

Rich then put his vehicle in reverse, moving back from the patrol vehicle. The deputies got out of their patrol vehicle and gave commands for Rich to put his vehicle in park and shut it off. Instead, Rich put the vehicle in drive and accelerated directly at a deputy, who had to jump out of the way. The deputy feared for his life at that point, the report said.

Rich fled northbound on South 9th Street, turning left on Main Street. After losing sight of Rich’s vehicle, deputies regained sight on County Road 466A and a chase ensued. Rich traveled at a high speed without regard for the safety of others during the chase, as he ran through red lights and stop signs while driving into oncoming traffic multiple times, according to the report.

The Street Crimes Unit was in the area and deployed a star chase dart to the back of Rich’s vehicle, making it possible to track the vehicle. Rich abandoned the vehicle on Birchwood Circle and fled north behind the apartments before being caught, the report said.

Rich was arrested and taken to the Lake County Jail, where he was still being held Friday on $21,000 bond. He’s due to appear in Lake County Court on April 26.

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