Miami-Dade County, FL – A Florida Highway Patrol trooper, who was injured when a crazed motorist intentionally rammed her patrol vehicle on the Florida Turnpike, still managed to chase down the suspect and arrest him (video below).
Despite her heroic takedown, the trooper was subsequently scolded by department administrators, the Miami Herald reported.
The incident occurred April 24, as Trooper Vanessa Franceschi was conducting a traffic stop on the shoulder of the busy roadway.
Dashcam footage showed the trooper as she returned to her patrol vehicle and got inside.
A moment later, 20-year-old Raumel Quintero slammed his Honda Civic into the back of the patrol car and sent the trooper’s vehicle lurching forward.
“Ah s--t!” Trooper Franceschi yelled.
The sound of squealing tires could be heard as Quintero shifted into reverse and ducked back into traffic.
Trooper Franceschi quickly jumped into action and initiated a pursuit.
“I just got hit,” she said over the radio. “The guy is fleeing in the car right now.”
She swiftly raced up behind him and broadcast the vehicle’s license plate as they sped down the shoulder of the road past congested lanes of traffic.
“Still fleeing,” Trooper Franceschi radioed, as the vehicles flew down an exit ramp. “He hit me hard from the rear. He reversed and took off. He’s failing to stop.”
Quintero weaved between lanes of traffic before he cut through a grassy area to avoid a traffic light, then forced his way into oncoming traffic to get back onto the Florida Turnpike, the video showed.
The crazed driver’s vehicle dove into the grass once again, as he passed two vehicles pulled onto the shoulder of the roadway.
Trooper Franceschi then asked for permission to perform a pursuit intervention technique in order to bring Quintero’s vehicle to a stop, WPEC reported.
“Let me know, I can try to PIT him here,” the trooper said over the radio.
Quintero cut across medians and blew by bumper-to-bumper traffic while traveling at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, WPLG reported.
Minutes later, Quintero was slowed down and attempted to navigate between motorists and a guardrail, enabling the trooper to close in behind him, the video showed.
She then used her patrol vehicle to strike the rear driver’s side quarter of Quintero’s vehicle and pushed him perpendicular to the other motorists’ direction of travel and into a cement barrier.
The officers boxed him in and Trooper Franceschi approached his driver’s side window with her weapon drawn.
Another officer opened the suspect’s passenger door and yanked Quintero from the vehicle.
Quintero was arrested on charges of fleeing, leaving the scene of a crash with injuries, and aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, the Palm Beach Post reported.
Trooper Franceschi was taken to a local hospital to be treated for back injuries sustained in the initial collision, WPLG reported.
No one else was injured during the pursuit, police said.
“That she was targeted because she is a law enforcement officer is outrageous,” Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Terry Rhodes told the Palm Beach Post. “We must continue to support our brave heroes by letting them know malicious attacks against law enforcement will not be tolerated in our communities.”
Three weeks after the dramatic pursuit, Florida Highway Patrol administrators required Trooper Franceschi to complete a counseling and training session to address the actions she took during her effort to apprehend Quintero, the Miami Herald reported.
After she satisfied the requirement, Lieutenant Gene Phillipson issued a memo that scolded the trooper for “improper driving tactics,” to include passing at a high rate of speed without a siren activated and driving the wrong way into traffic.
“This is to document that we discussed best practices and safety awareness concerns during your pursuit, and ensured that you understand the requirements of the policy, procedures and training regarding pursuits," Lt. Phillipson wrote. "Future violations of this nature may result in disciplinary action."
Florida Police Benevolent Association Florida Highway Patrol President Bill Smith blasted the agency for reprimanding Trooper Vanessa Franceschi, and argued that pursuits do not unfold according to a set of predetermined rules.
"We're getting to a point now where you're going to hamper or hinder a trooper's ability for them to effectively do their job," Smith told the Miami Herald. “[She conducted] the most perfect chase you can have unless the guy pulls over and gives it up."
You can watch dashcam footage of the pursuit in the video below: