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A Car Wreck at Publix Escalates Into Battery On a Cop and Hostility at Hospital’s ER

| October 2, 2014

Joseph Westervelt was apparently at the wheel of the station wagon when it wrecked. Richard Westervelt got out of the car and ran. (© FlaglerLive)

Joseph Westervelt was apparently at the wheel of the station wagon when it wrecked. Richard Westervelt got out of the car and ran. (© FlaglerLive)

It had started as a car wreck near the Publix at Palm Coast Parkway and Belle Terre. By the time the evening was over, Richard Westervelt was in leg irons and being booked at the Flagler County jail on two charges of battery on a cop and two charges of resisting arrest.

Westervelt has had his issues. In 2009 he pleaded guilty to shoplifting. He got a deferred prosecution agreement and the charge was eventually dismissed. The same year he was charged with battery and, in a separate incident, with criminal mischief. The charges were dismissed each time. In 2010 he faced a felony charge for aggravated assault. The charge was dismissed.


In 2010 he was also charged with dealing in stolen property, cocaine possession, resisting arrest with violence and fleeing police, possessing a short-barreled shotgun and possessing a weapon while a delinquent, as well as discharging a firearm in public. He pleaded guilty to most of the charges and was sent to state prison for two years but was released after 18 months.

Westervelt, a 23-year-old resident of 56 Ryland Drive in Palm Coast, had steered clear of trouble since his release. Until Wednesday evening.

It happened just before 7 p.m. Westervelt was, according to him, a passenger in a vehicle that lost control and ended up in the swale on the east side of Belle Terre Parkway and the north side of the street-light entrance to Publix. The station wagon had swerved off of Belle Terre and slammed into the swale then back up partially onto the sidewalk, taking chunks of sod with it. Joseph Westervelt, 20, told police he’d been driving. A police report states he’d initially run from the scene and into Publix, from where a deputy brought him back to the location of the crash.

Richard Westervelt was “acting erratically,” according to his arrest report. He said he never ran from the scene, though his arrest report states he did attempt to run.

Richard Westervelt

Richard Westervelt

Paramedics had been trying to treat Westervelt for his injuries. But “Richard stated that he would punch anyone in the face who touched him,” his arrest report states. As deputies were talking over the situation, Westervelt broke free of the person who was holding him and came towards one of the deputies, then changed his direction and attempted to run.

“I was able to grab him from behind and direct him to the ground,” the deputy reports. “While I was trying to safely restrain Richard, he kicked me in my right thigh area. At this point I was now in the process of securing both of his hands behind his back for officer safety and the safety of others on the scene. As I was trying to inform Richard that he was under arrest for Battery on LEO,” that is, battery on a law enforcement officer, “he continued to curse and actively resist my efforts to restrain him.”

Once secured in handcuffs, paramedics approached. Because of the injury to his shoulder they recommended that the handcuffs be removed so he could be better evaluated. Paramedics took him to an ambulance, but he refused treatment. Westervelt then got out of the ambulance and ran again. The cop again caught him and forced him to the ground as onlookers watched. Westervelt was handcuffed and placed in a deputy’s cruiser, where he “became extremely belligerent yelling and screaming about being injured.”

The cop took him to Florida Hospital Flagler, where Westervelt remained hostile. “While the nurses were trying to tend to Richard’s arm sling that he was placed in, he began cursing at the nurses,” the report states. Westervelt was ordered “to sit back on the bed so he can be properly treated,” the deputy reports. “At this time, Richard refused to listen to my verbal commands as well as the nurse’s. One of the nurses tried to restrain Richard by his non secured hand, when he leaped up off the bed and lunged towards me with his shoulder making physical contact. I redirected Richard back to the bed and was able to secure him partially until additional units arrived with leg irons to secure him. Richard was also secured at the waist using a transport belt for safety.”

The booking at the jail went more smoothly. He was booked on the four charges by 11 p.m. By this morning, Westervelt had been released, posting bail on $6,000 bond.

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21 Responses for “A Car Wreck at Publix Escalates Into Battery On a Cop and Hostility at Hospital’s ER”

  1. markingthedays says:

    “directed to the ground” :-)

  2. A.S.F. says:

    Perhaps, this time, the court will consider him a serious enough risk to do something that might remove him from the public arena for a while…now that he has aggressed against a police officer instead of simply posing a danger to the general public.

  3. Tell Me About iT says:

    I don’t understand why “onlookers”/civilians would feel the need to physically attempt to put their hands on an erratic individual who may or maybe not be guilty of a property crime? All they may do is escalate the situation from fleeing to violent. That’s why their are deputies and detectives, radios and helicopters, canines. Not George Zimmerman’s on the force.

  4. GY says:

    Can’t even buy a few groceries on a week night without being in danger of being injured or killed by a crazed or drunk who should not be on the streets much less behind the wheel. Why the low bond of $6000?

  5. Obama 2014 says:

    Great job by our Police force.

    With all the bad news about our law enforcement in this country it is great to read a story about a team that did the job right.

  6. Steven Nobile says:

    Is it me or does it sound like there is an issue with or judicial system?

  7. Sherry Epley says:

    There is something terribly wrong with our “mental health” as well as judicial systems. Locking up and warehousing kids who “act out” again and again is not the humane way to go. Yes, they must be removed from society for everyone’s safety, but the problem is that there is NO true option of incarcerated treatment for mental problems/rehabilitation in Florida.

    • Rich says:

      Sherry,

      Why do you feel that almost every article pertaining to the arrest of a person who is combative is doing so because he / she is mentally ill? You may not realize this, however; there are “bad” people in this world that have no regard for others, especially law enforcement. Just because they lack respect and regard for others does not make them mentally ill. Law enforcement is trained to handle the mentally ill as well as the criminal element. Please stop saying everyone is mentally ill and therefor should be provided services for their illness outside of the criminal justice system. Some people are mentally ill and are provided the services they truly need. It would be nice if we lived in a utopian world but we don’t!

  8. blondee says:

    Should have used a taser on him.

  9. Witness says:

    I drove past this scene southbound on Belle Terre immediately after the accident occurred. There was a second car at the scene, a small dark colored sedan, with its front end bashed in.

    I was stopped first in line at the light by the library for some time and so had a chance to observe the scene for a couple of minutes while sitting there and then driving past the scene. A large number of young men who appeared to have come out of the station wagon were milling around quite agitated. One was running across the street through traffic, from the direction of the new Verizon store. Another, l believe the arrestee from the booking photo, was on the grass rolling around like he was in pain. Then he sat up on the edge of the road for a few moments like he was fine. Then the first police car approached and he began rolling around on the ground again. It appeared he was either high or faking an injury.

    The first officer at the scene got out of her car with her hand on her gun and a very wary attitude. She seemed more concerned about security than with triaging for possible injuries and establishing a safe traffic pattern, which confirmed my impression something weird was going on.

  10. Skot David Wilson says:

    Don’t you think he might have mental-issues and jail is the wrong place at least ONCE— maybe therapy, meds, and the care he needs…. might have been manic, sick… who knows

    • ryan says:

      The guy’s a criminal who knows what he is doing. I am getting sick of people calling anyone who is a bad or violent person mentally ill.

  11. John Smallberries says:

    Oh, he’s white. No wonder he wasn’t shot.

  12. Seminole Pride says:

    That’s why I believe in a mandatory Draft System. If you are between the age of 18 to 25 you must be in college or serving your country. To many irresponsible young adults out there in society doing nothing and not being productive.

    • Dan says:

      That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard, iam not in college iam a stay at home dad does that mean I should be drafted to serve my country in a war I don’t believe in, the whole point of being in the usa is supposed to be that we have freedom and opportunities which we don’t because the government has found a way to control everything we do, so if we were mandatory drafted that would further prove my point that we dont have the freedom people think, not to mention who is to decide what is “productive” I don’t think what were doing in other countries is productive or spending thousands of dollars on tuition that’s actually not needed is productive,

  13. jim says:

    arrested….dismissed arrest….dismissed arrested…..dismissed WTF… what the heck is going on in the State’s Attorney’s office that every time an arrest is made….it’s DISMISSED!!! wow!!!

  14. I/M/O says:

    He wrecked a Buick Roadmaster Station Wagon? The best car ever made?

  15. A.S.F. says:

    IF this individual was on probation from a prior, my bet is that sobriety and/or therapeutic treatment might have already been part of the terms. IF he was on probation and sobriety and treatment weren’t part of the terms, they should have been. He is 23 years old, according to this article. If he is able to afford a good lawyer (and/or drugs) ,he can afford treatment. Unfortunately, people who get a break too many times find it difficult to comprehend that they will ever be held accountable. And accountability is the corner of any worthwhile treatment program.

  16. confidential says:

    This dude is a danger to us all free on such a low bond bail…what’s wrong with our judges in the Flagler County Court?

  17. Sherry Epley says:

    @Rich. . . My spirituality is strong. I believe that we are all brothers and sisters of the human race and that each of us is beautifully imperfect. I do not subscribe to the FEAR based hatred of those that are troubled/disenfranchised/the wrong skin color/wrong gender/wrong sexual orientation/different religion, etc. etc. I do not believe in labeling myself as GOOD and others as EVIL.

    I believe that this young man, and many others like him, is “troubled” and needs our compassion and care. . . in a SAFE place, removed from society. Should we NOT reach out with our hearts and souls to assist our fellow human beings in their desperate hours?

    Rich, if you and all those in your family and those with whom you are acquainted are perfect, then you are truly blessed. However, if that is the case (which of course it is NOT). . . then I would still advocate for “treatment” instead of judging such “acting out” as EVIL and being so cruel as to simply lock people away from the “perfect ones” without any humane thought or feeling.

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