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Off-Duty Officer Chases Suspect With Family In Car

Daytona Beach News-Journal via YellowBrix

April 27, 2010

DAYTONA, FL – An off-duty Oak Hill police officer with his wife and children in tow narrated a high-speed car chase that included his firing a shot at a pickup driver accused of attempting to ram the family’s sedan.

The recording of the 9-1-1 call to Volusia County sheriff’s dispatchers released Monday included claims of a pursuit that reached speeds of more than 90 mph on southbound Interstate 95 north of New Smyrna Beach before exiting onto State Road 44.

Shortly before 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Officer Brandy Alexander Sutherin, 34, called dispatchers to report a pickup had hit his family’s 2000 BMW sedan at least twice as it traveled along the interstate.

With his wife, Christina Sutherin, 32, at the wheel and his three children in the back seat, Brandy Sutherin calmly relayed details during the 16-minute recording as operators urged him to slow down for the safety of his family.

“He is doing in excess of 120 (mph), and we are at 90,” Brandy Sutherin said during the call, while trying to read the truck’s license tag.

“I know you are an officer, but you don’t want to put your family in danger by flying down the highway to get a license,” the unidentified operator said.

“I am following at a safe distance,” the officer said.

The pursuit continued onto westbound State Road 44 as the family followed their accused assailant, who police identified as Jared Wayne Williams, 21, of Perry.

Then things got even more dangerous.

Brandy Sutherin told dispatchers at one point in the ordeal that Williams tried to ram his family’s car head-on while traveling along S.R. 44. In response, the officer fired a single-shot from his personal .45-caliber pistol at the truck’s rear tires. He told the dispatcher he thought he missed.

The vehicles raced west on S.R. 44, away from the interstate and toward State Road 415, with a short detour into the Venetian Bay subdivision before turning back east on S.R. 44, Florida Highway Patrol and New Smyrna Beach police investigators said in reports released Monday.

The pursuit finally ended when Brandy Sutherin convinced his wife to stop at a convenience store at S.R. 415.

Sutherin said he last saw the pickup heading east on S.R. 44.

Law enforcement officers issued a statewide alert for Williams and his black Ford F-150 pickup. Police have submitted aggravated assault charges with the State Attorney’s Office against the North Florida resident for his role in the suspected road rage incident.

Oak Hill Police Chief Diane Young on Monday said Sutherin is on paid administrative leave while troopers and New Smyrna Beach officers conduct their investigation. At present, he faces no charges, the chief said.

She said her agency is also conducting an internal review of Sutherin’s actions to see if they were justified.

Young did not respond to requests for comment about the 9-1-1 recording or the outside investigations, saying they were ongoing.

Telephone messages left on an answering machine at Sutherin’s Edgewater home Monday were not returned.

Brandy Sutherin started with Oak Hill as an unpaid reserve officer, then was hired part time in January. He was put on full-time status in March, a department official said.

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