Fleeing driver breaks through fences, fails to elude police

OKEECHOBEE — Bad boys will never learn that attempting to flee and elude the police will never end well for them.

At nearly 3 a.m. on Feb. 7, Deputy Yero Todman of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop a white 2006 Ford pickup truck for suspicious behavior and occupants not wearing their seatbelts. The driver, later identified as Robert Bryan Smith, apparently had different plans and intentionally did not stop for the red and blue flashing lights and siren of the marked patrol unit on U.S. 98 North and N.W. 18th Street heading west. He drove the vehicle through the fence at the end of N.W. 18th Street, causing extensive damage, and then through a second fence located on the 2000 block of N.W. 50th Ave.

Robert Bryan Smith

The estimated value of the second fence was $1,200 and the property owner, after being notified, wished to pursue criminal charges.

Deputy Brian Cross and K-9 Magnum responded to the 2100 block of N.W. 50th Avenue in reference to a K-9 utilization report. Upon arrival, the report states Deputy Cross made contact with Deputy Todman, who told him that two white, male suspects crashed a stolen vehicle and fled on foot. Deputy Todman reportedly described the driver as short haired, possibly bald while the passenger had black hair.

Deputy Cross then retrieved K-9 Magnum from his patrol vehicle and tasked him to track the vehicle, which had allegedly been stolen from W.C.E. Equipment on Monday, Feb. 6. K-9 Magnum picked up human scent and tracked westbound, then turned northbound crossing two fences and then turning westbound. He tracked approximately 150 yards, according to Deputy Cross’ report, until they reached a heavily wooded area containing heavy palmettos and vines.

K-9 Magnum then began air scenting and pulling to the north. Deputy Cross and K-9 Magnum entered the palmettos and began crawling on their stomachs. Deputy Cross kept tying K-9 Magnum up to the palmettos so he could crawl and catch up with him. K-9 Magnum could smell the suspect and began barking continuously. Deputy Cross gave multiple K-9 warnings and received no response, according to the report.

Upon reaching the outer edge of the palmettos, K-9 Magnum engaged Smith in the right leg while he was hiding facedown in the palmettos. Deputy Cross ordered Smith to show his hands, and after a few seconds, he complied.

Deputy Cross then ordered K-9 Magnum to watch Smith while he was placed in wrist restraints.

Smith was treated for a canine bite at Raulerson Hospital. He also allegedly had a black and grey backpack on his person when deputies took him into custody. Deputy Quinton Speed’s search of the backpack yielded a small plastic bag that field tested positive for methamphetamine. Two pill containers with four compartments were located as well. One container had one gram of meth in the bedtime compartment; the second container had meth residue in the supper compartment. The deputies also allegedly found a needle with the meth. An SCT flash device used to change the fuel consumption in vehicle engine was also recovered from the backpack.

Smith was arrested on felony charges of fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer, criminal mischief, driving while license suspended/revoked with knowledge, grand theft auto, resisting arrest without violence and possession of meth. His bond was set at $33,500.

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