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Driver accused of ramming deputy's car head-on during Easter chase

A passenger in the car told sheriff's deputies the driver was high on methamphetamine and had a gun, deputies say.

CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. — A driver in Citrus County led deputies on a "slow-speed" pursuit on Easter Sunday, even letting a passenger out during the chase and ramming a deputy's patrol car head-on, according to law enforcement.

Sometime after 1:30 p.m., Citrus County sheriff's deputies attempted to make a traffic stop on a car in the area of W. Venable Street and 7 Rivers Drive in Crystal River. Deputies said the gold-colored Dodge pickup truck was bearing a Tennessee tag, both of which were confirmed to be stolen. 

However, deputies say when they conducted the stop, the driver later identified as 39-year-old Michael James Dailey of Lecanto, Florida, did not stop and a pursuit ensued. 

Deputies said throughout the chase, Dailey briefly stopped the car multiple times and took off after each stop. During one of his stops, deputies said he let out a passenger who was able to safely exit the car. When authorities spoke with the woman, she told them Dailey "was high on methamphetamine" and had a gun in the truck. 

As the pursuit continued, deputies said Dailey tried to hit several deputies' patrol cars. He even rammed one patrol car head-on, Citrus County Sheriff's Office said. 

The chase came to a close in the business plaza of Meadowcrest when deputies deployed stop sticks to deflate the truck's tires. In a final attempt to get away, Dailey tried to drive over a rock embankment but was not able to and the car was immobilized. The pursuit lasted about 45 minutes.

After refusing to listen to deputies' demands to exit the truck and claiming to have a firearm, Citrus County called in the SWAT team. After 45 minutes of negotiations, SWAT team members deployed a flash-bang with little effect and eventually fired two "less-lethal" gas rounds into the truck. 

Dailey then surrendered and was arrested. 

"Dailey showed a blatant disregard for law enforcement today," Sheriff Mike Prendergast said. "His actions put our deputies' lives in jeopardy and that of our citizens."

The 39-year-old man is charged with aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer without violence, aggravated flee/elude law enforcement from the scene of a crash with damage, theft of a vehicle and driving with license suspended or revoked.

The passenger in the car, identified as Betty Hall, 61 of Lecanto, Florida, was also arrested. She was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

The sheriff's office said there were no injuries as a result of the pursuit.

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