The suspect accused of dragging an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper during a traffic stop surrendered to police the day after the incident.
Jamel Robert Patton, 22, turned himself in to Austintown police on Friday afternoon. He’s in the Mahoning County Jail on charges of assaulting a police officer, fleeing an officer and resisting arrest.
Troopers aren’t happy it happened but they’re pleased with the way it ended.
A BOLO (Be on the Lookout) was issued for Patton after the traffic stop Thursday night.
At 11:25 p.m., Trooper Mike Miller, of Highway Patrol’s Canfield Post, pulled over the driver of a Ford 500 for driving without a headlight. It happened on Glenn Oak Drive.
“He approached the driver’s side, could detect an odor of raw and burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle,” Sgt. Patrick Abel said.
Miller asked the driver to step out of the car, but he drove away.
“He was just trying to just gain control of the suspect, the driver, to try to get him to stop but at the same time, as he was accelerating away, he just became locked onto the vehicle and at that point, he was afraid for his life,” Abel said.
The trooper was dragged 1.7 miles down Kirk Road at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour, according to Highway Patrol.
Miller was able to release his grip after the driver eventually slowed down. He was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center with minor injuries.
“He has some scrapes and bruises to his lower extremities, nothing life-threatening,” Lt. Brad Bucey said.
Another trooper chased the vehicle and was able to identify the driver as Patton, according to a report released by the patrol.
Troopers say the pursuit lasted several minutes longer, but Patton managed to get away.
Investigators tracked the car to a south side Youngstown address and the vehicle was impounded. Investigators reported finding a loaded gun in the car.
Police followed leads to Brentwood Drive, Warren Avenue and they even searched a house on Cohasset Drive. A K9 and plane were even brought out to help.
The pressure of the search must have convinced Patton to surrender to Austintown police.
Abel said when Patton turned himself in, he was quiet and cooperative.
“It was a very senseless act that was committed and the right thing to do was to turn himself in to save more possible injuries or making a matter worse than it already was.”
Sheriff’s deputies expect Patton will be in court on Monday.
This isn’t the first time an investigator has been dragged during a traffic stop.
In 2011, a Youngstown State University police officer was dragged during a stop that happened near campus.
Mahoning County Sheriff’s Deputy Carmen Constantino said it’s important to look for warning signs — such as someone who is sweating or acting nervously — when making a stop.
“I may be pulling him over for a simple, you know, going through a stop sign, and the person may have drugs or something illegal inside their vehicle, or he might have a warrant for his arrest,” he said.
Constantino even offered advice for those who find themselves in a traffic stop to ease potential tensions. First, he said to pull off to the right side of the roadway.
“Keep your hands on the steering wheel. If your music’s up loud, turn your music down, roll down your driver’s side window and just keep your hands on your steering wheel,” he said.