Florence, AZ – A Pinal County deputy narrowly escaped a burglary suspect’s attempt to ram him with a vehicle during a traffic stop early Wednesday morning, dashcam footage showed (video below).
The video captured the moment that 21-year-old Charles Butler crashed into the driver’s door of the deputy’s patrol vehicle.
He then took off and committed a slew of additional offenses that led to his arrest and the arrest of two more suspects, the department said in a Facebook post.
The incident began just after midnight, when a Pinal County sheriff’s deputy spotted a black sedan connected to an earlier burglary at a McDonald’s restaurant in Coolidge.
The deputy stopped the driver, later identified as Butler, in a residential area near American Way and Hunt Highway.
Butler immediately opened the driver’s door and stepped out of the vehicle with his hands raised, facing the deputy, the silent dashcam footage showed.
But as the deputy approached him, Butler suddenly turned and dropped back into the driver’s seat, closing the door behind him.
The deputy ran toward the vehicle and reached inside the driver’s side window as the brake lights illuminated.
Butler then stepped on the gas, forcing the deputy to abandon his attempt to turn the vehicle off, the department said.
The deputy quickly pushed away from the side of Butler’s car, as it sped forward and made a U-turn, the video showed.
With Butler’s vehicle closing in, the deputy sprinted back to his patrol vehicle and jumped inside.
“He barely made it inside before the suspect rammed his vehicle into the driver side of the patrol car,” the department’s press release read.
The cruiser rocked and lurched at the moment of impact, the video showed.
The crash disabled Butler’s vehicle, so he took off running from the scene, the agency said.
The deputy was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries, and has since been released.
Officers searched the area looking for Butler in the hours that followed.
At approximately 4:30 a.m., a woman called 911 to report that her car and rifle had been stolen from her residence.
The woman explained that she had noticed police searching for someone in the neighborhood earlier that night, so she took out her rifle to protect herself.
“At some point, the suspect broke into her home while she and her disabled son were sleeping,” the sheriff’s office said in the press release. “The child told police that he thought he saw someone in the home during the night.”
Three hours later, the department received a tip that Butler was at a residence near Gantzel and Ocotillo.
When they arrived, they spotted Butler as he exited a home and attempted to “blend in with children” waiting at a school bus stop.
He was taken into custody, and the woman’s stolen vehicle was also recovered.
According to investigators, Butler admitted to stealing the woman’s rifle, and said he sold the gun to 26-year-old Mexican national Tadeo Bravo-Cortez “in exchange for drugs.”
When investigators located Bravo-Cortez and attempted to stop his vehicle, he took off and led officers on a pursuit.
“During the pursuit, money and other items were thrown out of the vehicle,” the agency noted.
Bravo-Cortez eventually crashed his vehicle on the Gila River Indian Community reservation. After he and his passenger, 20-year-old Erika Norris, were taken into custody, the stolen rifle was recovered from inside their vehicle.
Butler was arrested on charges of aggravated assault with injury, endangerment, assault against a police officer, and burglary.
Bravo-Cortez was arrested on charges of possession of stolen firearms, felony flight, dangerous drugs, misconduct involving weapons, drug paraphernalia, and tampering with evidence.
Norris was arrested on charges of possession of stolen firearms, dangerous drugs, drug paraphernalia, and misconduct involving weapons.
You can watch dashcam footage from the incident below: