ASHEVILLE (Citizen-Times) – Authorities say a city police officer was hurt early Saturday morning when a motorist grabbed her by the arm and dragged her 130 feet along Interstate 240 following a traffic stop.
Celso Avila-Aguilar, 31, of Emma Road, was jailed under a $100,000 bond, according to arrest warrants.
The suspect was headed west on the interstate shortly after midnight when he was pulled over near the Charlotte Street exit for suspicion of driving while impaired, Sgt. Dave Romick said.
Avila-Aguilar was uncooperative and refused instructions to get out of the vehicle.
As police were attempting to remove him from the car, the suspect grabbed officer Ann Fowler's arm, pinning it to the steering wheel, and took off, dragging her 130 feet, Romick said.
"Officer Fowler pulled and fought with the man trying to break his grasp and free herself from an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation," he said. "Once free, she fell onto the middle of the interstate and somehow managed to avoid other vehicles hitting her."
Another officer called for an ambulance and provided a description of the car, a Toyota Camry.
Avila-Aguilar continued west on I-240 and rammed a police cruiser on the Bowen Bridge. His car sustained significant front-end damage and could no longer operate by the time it reached Haywood Road, Romick said. Additional officers arrived and took the suspect into custody.
Fowler was treated at Mission Hospital and released. Capt. Tim Splain said she suffered bruises and scratches but will be OK.
"He grabbed her by the arm and pulled her partly into the vehicle and stepped on the gas and accelerated away," Splain said. "This kind of highlights the fact that everything we do, no matter what we do, can potentially be dangerous."
The charges include assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, second-degree kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, fleeing to elude arrest, reckless driving to endanger, injury to property and driving while impaired.
Splain said it's unclear why the suspect assaulted the officer.
"He was very combative through the entire incident," he said.