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Friday, August 5, 2022

Man tased during struggle with cops investigating car blaze

Eric Marquis Bennett
Eric Marquis Bennett

A 31-year-old Leesburg man had to be tased after he reportedly assaulted police officers investigating a fire that started in the trunk of his vehicle.

Eric Marquis Barrett, of 315 N. Moss St., was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence after the incident, which happened shortly before 9 p.m. Monday near the intersection of Johns Avenue and McCormack Street.

When the first Leesburg police officer arrived at the scene, Leesburg firefighters were already trying to put out the fire and said nobody was inside the white Dodge Charger. Bystanders pointed to Barrett as the driver of the vehicle. Barrett was pacing between two vehicles and appeared distraught. When asked what happened, he approached an officer in an aggressive manner and was ordered to back up, according to the police report.

Barrett’s girlfriend, who was in the driver’s seat of a silver car, yelled at Barrett and told the officer that she – not Barrett – was the driver of the burning vehicle. Barrett yelled at his girlfriend, “It’s OK,” and said he was the driver, the report said.

Barrett’s girlfriend told the officer she was driving on McCormack Street when she saw the trunk of her Dodge Charger was in flames. She said she parked the vehicle and called the fire department. While speaking with his girlfriend, Barrett continued yelling at officers and became more upset when they tried to get more information about the incident, according to the report.

When asked to identify himself, Barrett approached officers again in an aggressive manner. Officers tried to place Barrett in handcuffs, but he resisted by pulling away. Barrett’s girlfriend tried to help him and struck an officer in the face. Barrett tried to help his girlfriend and all the parties fell to the ground during the struggle. Barrett continued to physically resist by wrestling with the officers. An officer gained control of the situation by deploying a taser near Barrett’s hand and elbow, the report said.

Barrett kept resisting and multiple officers were needed to place him in handcuffs. He was taken to the Leesburg Fire Department for a medical evaluation before being taken to the Lake County Jail. He was released early Tuesday on $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Lake County Court on Aug. 1.

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