CLEARWATER — A Clearwater police officer was hurt Friday afternoon while chasing a hit-and-run suspect.
The Largo Police Department had put out an alert about 2003 silver Saturn Vue suspected to be involved in a hit-and-run in its jurisdiction, officials said. Witnesses from that crash followed the vehicle, which was then involved in a second hit-and-run crash in the Chevron parking lot at 1285 S. Highland Ave. in Clearwater, officials said.
Clearwater police Officer Darcy Hunt and Cpl. Steve Squillante spotted the vehicle on Court Street and initiated a traffic stop about 1 p.m. in a parking lot at 1408 Court St., police said.
The suspect, later identified as 23-year-old Nicole Syphers, stopped in the parking lot, then quickly put the vehicle in reverse and aimed her car at the officers, investigators said. The Saturn struck Hunt in the leg and nearly struck Squillante, and both fired at the vehicle in fear of their lives, police said.
Syphers drove her car over a small wall, blowing out all four tires, police said. She kept driving north on Hillcrest, but officers caught up with her a couple of blocks away, police said.
Syphers, of 1144 N.E. Cleveland St., Clearwater, faces charges of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, leaving the scene of a crash with property damage, reckless driving, fleeing and eluding, and driving with a suspended or revoked license.
Hunt was treated and released at Morton Plant Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
Hunt has been with Clearwater police since July 2005, and Squillante has been with the department since February 1995. Both were placed on paid administrative leave pending a review of the incident, which is routine in such cases.