Manatee deputy shoots fleeing suspect with Taser

November 26, 2012 

MANATEE -- A Manatee County sheriff's deputy early Monday shot a suspect with a Taser after he led deputies on a foot chase.

About 3:08 a.m. a deputy on patrol spotted a car leave the parking lot of the Peek-A-Boo lounge on 14th Street West at a high rate of speed without stopping before entering the roadway, according to a news release from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

The deputy and a second deputy stopped the car in the 6000 block of 14th Street West. The driver, later identified as Gordon Merritt, got out the car holding "a black object in his hand being held as if it were a weapon," the report states.

When a deputy ordered Merritt to drop the item, he immediately ran north on foot. The deputy gave chase and ultimately cornered Merritt behind a business. The deputy ordered him to drop the object, but Merritt tensed up and tried to run again so the deputy fired his Taser, striking Merritt "with one probe in the buttock."

"The suspect immediately complied and it was discovered the object he had was a cell phone," the report states.

Merritt has no valid driver's license and is currently out on bond for an arrest a few months ago for the same charge, according to the sheriff's office.

After Merritt made statements that provided probable cause, deputies searching his car found 1.7 grams of Oxycodone in a bottle labeled for someone else, and "a misdemeanor amount of marijuana ... that he bragged was really good stuff," the report states. He also admitted to taking the pills.

Merritt "had $1412.25 in his pocket mostly in $20 bills except for $57 dollars of it. The defendant has no job and claims to receive $999 a month in social security and food stamps and referred to the $1,400 on him as 'chump change,'" the report states.

Merritt, who faces charges of drug possession, resisting arrest, and driving with suspended license, was being held at the Manatee County jail on bonds totaling $2,370.

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