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Friday, December 8, 2023

Belligerent tailgater in Camaro accused of threatening officers on the way to jail

Michael Scott Parnell
Michael Scott Parnell

A Winter Garden man who reportedly followed a vehicle all the way from Orlando to Leesburg is accused of verbally abusing and threatening the police officers who arrested him on drunk-driving charges.

Michael Scott Parnell, 26, was charged with simple assault on a law enforcement officer, DUI (first offense), and refusal to submit to a breath test.

At around 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Leesburg police officers responded to the area of U.S. Hwy. 27 and County Road 25A after a driver reported that a black Camaro had been following him since he left Orlando. The driver said Camaro was swerving all over the road and was unable to maintain its lane. An officer was able to locate the two vehicles traveling north at Griffin Road and 14th Street, according to the police report.

The officer noticed the Camaro was tailgating the other vehicle and was tapping/slamming the brakes every 20 yards or so. The Camaro was also swerving back and forth in the lane, crossing the fog line and center dotted line several times. The officer’s patrol car and the other two vehicle all came to a complete stop at the traffic light at Picciola Road and Citrus boulevard. When the light turned green the vehicle took an unusual amount of time to accelerate, the report said.

During the time stopped behind the Camaro, the officer ran the license tag and it came back attached to a white Camaro. However, this Camaro was black and did not look like it had been recently painted. Based on the driving behavior, the 911 complaint and the paint discrepancy, the officer initiated a traffic stop near Citrus Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The Camaro did not stop until the officer got abnormally close to it with the lights and siren activated. The driver – later identified as Parnell – pulled into the parking lot of Dollar General store at 3335 U.S. Hwy. 27 in Fruitland Park, according to the report.

The officer immediately noticed overwhelming smell of alcohol on Parnell’s breath. Parnell was unable to form a coherent sentence and was profusely sweating. He had a hard time finding his driver’s license and the other documents. Once outside his vehicle, Parnell leaned against the car and was swaying back and forth towards and away from the officer. His eyes were bloodshot and glossy, and the smell of alcohol was getting increasingly worse, the report said.

When the officer asked Parnell to take part in field sobriety exercises, he responded, “(expletive deleted) you.” The officer asked him two more times and explained the consequences if Parnell didn’t participate, and Parnell continued to refuse while verbally abusing the officers. He was placed under arrest, according to the report.

Parnell’s attitude got worse as the officer was taking him to the Leesburg Police Department for booking. Once at the station, Parnell told an officer he was going to “beat his ass” if he got any closer to him. Although Parnell was handcuffed, he said several times he would kick the officers. He said he would harm the officer if he took off the handcuffs and that he would beat up the officer if he saw him on the streets, the report said.

While being taken to the Lake County Jail, Parnell continued to threaten the officer by saying he would “clap him up,” which is a term used to describe someone being killed. Once at the jail, Parnell threatened and kicked jail staff as they removed him from the vehicle. Parnell was ultimately placed into an isolation room because of his behavior, according to the report.

A search of Parnell’s driving record showed he has a previous DUI in 2017 without a conviction. In that case, he also refused to provide a breath sample for testing, the report said.

When Parnell’s vehicle was towed from the scene, officers found a loaded Glock 43 handgun in a bag on the passenger seat. The gun was accompanied by 73 rounds of 9mm ammunition and four magazines, according to the report.

Parnell was released from jail later in the day on $7,000 bond. He will appear in Lake County Court on July 18.

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