Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly today pointed a gun at a suspect for the first time in his years as sheriff or undersheriff as he was directly involved in the pursuit and apprehension of two people who’d led Staly and two deputies on a high-speed chase on I-95 this afternoon.
One of the suspect, Tavarius Stokes, 23, had twice been involved in domestic altercations in Bunnell in the past 24 hours, had allegedly pulled a gun on the mother of his child, and was wanted on a warrant out of Volusia County. Stokes is at the Volusia County jail facing several charges.
According to Staly, Stokes initially caught the attention of Bunnell police Friday night when they were dispatched to a house in Bunnell in response to an allegation of domestic violence. Stokes was allegedly “threatening to kill the mother of his child over child custody,” Staly said in an interview this afternoon. The Sheriff’s Office assisted Bunnell and attempted to locate him. He was not found Friday evening. At around 2 p.m. today, the 911 center got another call in reference to the same house, with a report that Stokes had just been there again, pointed a gun at his child’s mother, and fled in a red car.
“We knew from the earlier investigation he was either going to go back to Daytona or he was going to go back to a house in the U section” in Palm Coast, the sheriff said.
A sheriff’s deputy around Bulldog Drive spotted Stokes on State Road 100 going east and started following him. Staly had been on State Road 100 himself at that very moment–he’d been on his way to his office to do a couple of things before heading to see a friend in Putnam County. He pulled over to put his bullet-proof vest on and joined the chase. By then Stokes had allegedly started eluding the other deputy who’d spotted him, making a U-Turn just before Old Kings Road, and getting on I-95 going south.
Staly was in the chase with deputies Crista Rainey, Brian Carter and, moments later, Sgt. Ryan Emery–four vehicles chasing a crimson Suzuki that was “driving very reckless,” Staly said. “I authorized a vehicle apprehension because he was a known fugitive, violent tendencies, running with a gun, and we needed to apprehend him before he could carry through on his threats.”
Stokes attempted to force the cops’ vehicles off the road several times, Staly said. “We’re up beside him or behind him, he slows down, hits the brakes, at one point we try to force him to the side of the road, he forces us back into the road,” the Sheriff said. “He struck deputy Rainey’s vehicle, which I witnessed.” The fleeing vehicle reached speeds exceeding 100 mph. Seeing what was happening, traffic on I-95 started slowing down and give the pursuing sheriff’s vehicles room to what became a tactical stop of the Suzuki right past the State Road 40 exit.
By then Staly had requested the assistance of Flagler County’s Fire Flight and Volusia County’s Air One, the emergency helicopters, letting authorities know at both ends that he and his deputies would pull back from the chase and let Volusia take over as soon as the helicopters had visuals on the fleeing car. (“We have the right as sheriff’s deputies to pursue anywhere in the state of Florida as long as it starts in our county,” Staly said.) Pulling back proved unnecessary: the Staly chase trio was able to apprehend Stokes before the helicopters’ arrival.
“We were able to box him in where he was not able to go further,” Staly said. “Two deputies were able to pull the driver out of the driver’s side door at gunpoint, and I pulled the passenger out at gunpoint, put him down on the pavement.” Stokes was driving. The passenger, whose identity has not yet been released, immediately told Staly he was not involved in whatever Stokes was wanted for.
“The passenger said he didn’t know anything about it, of course he was a passenger in a car that turned out to be a stolen car that was traveling at over 100 mph,” Staly said, “so we’re still investigating if he was involved in any of the criminal activities of the driver.”
And any firearms? “We did not recover a weapon at the scene but we know he threw something out on the Interstate during the pursuit and we’ve been searching the interstate to find out what that was.”
Volusia County took Stokes into custody on their charges, which included grand theft and heroin possession, and Flagler filed charges of grand theft auto, aggravated fleeing and attempting to elude. Flagler is also working on charges of aggravated assault because of the alleged aggressions on the highway, and the Florida Highway Patrol is charging Stokes with leaving the scene of an accident subsequent to his striking Rainey’s patrol vehicle, which sustained minor damage.
Initially southbound traffic on I-95 was at a standstill and was diverted onto Route 40 before the three lanes on 95 were gradually reopened.
“We were very fortunate in this that the drivers on 95 realized what was going on and really started slowing down” so there was no traffic in the area where the sheriff and his deputies executed the tactical maneuver on Stokes, Staly said. “We were able to apprehend a very violent fugitive that had no regard for anybody’s life without any injuries to the deputies or to the citizens and only minor damage to the car. Suspects’ actions dictate what we do, and vehicle apprehensions are extremely dangerous for everybody involved. Fortunately our deputies did a phenomenal job controlling their actions and ultimately apprehending this guy.”
Staly has drawn his gun before on warrant searches and in situations where the suspect or suspects were not in sight, but since he’s been undersheriff or sheriff, going back to 2012, today’s incident was the first time he had to point his gun at a suspect. Staly in his earlier days on the beat was shot in the line of duty when he was reaching for his gun, an incident that marked its 40th anniversary last month. He was shot in the arm, and a bullet-proof vest he’d bought himself saved his life, as another bullet would have lodged in his chest otherwise: pulling over today to pull on a bullet-proof vest was not just to comply with Sheriff’s Office policy but with personal memory.
As for the incidents at the Bunnell house that triggered the chase, that’s Bunnell police’s case. Staly, for his part, resumed his planned Saturday activities. In the back of his car he’d stashed his fast-draw gun and all the equipment that comes with it (Staly has participated in fast-draw competitions the last two years, winning two years ago and being the runner-up this year): he was planning to practice fast-draw with his friend in Putnam before dinner. Assuming he doesn’t run into miscreants on the way.
Another one bites the dust Bye bye
John Norris says
Great Job Guys !! Another Dirt Bag off the streets, Thank God Your all safe to go home to your families !!! Well Done !!!!
PLEASE put this guy away for a long LONG time.
I’m proud to say that I have voted for Pres. Ronald Reagan, Pres. Donald Trump and Sheriff Rick Staly.
What a JOKE! Why dont you post the pursuit policy that apparently doesnt apply to sheriff dingle berry. Just exactly how many lives did he endanger because he put his vest on and wanted to drive fast. As many deputies as he has investigated, I believe its time for the Sheriff. To much boasting and bragging for free publicity/politicking.
So we shut down a major highway to take pics. wth!!!
Seriously, what is WRONG with this jerk?! He needs to be locked up so he can’t harm his child’s mother or anyone else. Total Scumbag!
Great Job Sheriff Staly and kudos to that law enforcer lady Rainey and Sgt Emery and Deputy Carter.
Bet he bonded out of jail already !
staley on his way to Putnam County at taxpayer expense !!!
Well done Team Staley!!!
Awesome job, but come on a photo op in the middle of I-95 with cars being detoured. Not good PR Sheriff.
Release the dash camera footage and body cam footage of all officers. We would all like to see how safe the maneuver really was? So dangerous chasing down cars on 95. The amount of officers and technology available should allow to just let him run and catch up at a safer point. Lets also budget a full time camera crew for Staly so he can be shown doing his job all the time. ( Sorta like Live Cops but just for Staly) He sure Seems to like to take photos of everything he is paid to do. Great job for doing your job! I know i seem sarcastic but i have never in my life seen a sheriff so publicly blessed for what he is paid to do.Do you ever see Chitwood pull this in Volusia? Staly should also have an Instagram so we could also follow him that way.
Concerned Citizen says
While I’m glad the guy was apprehended let me leave this thought here.
Sheriff Staly seems to have to interject himself into every situation that could be handled by Supervisors and Line Deputies. Why is this? Simply put it’s election year and he knew there would be a media presence.
The Sheriff has no problem investigating and firing deputies that did what he just did. Yet he seems to be above the law.
Let your deputies do their jobs and you do your job as Sheriff. You don’t have to be involved in every single situation that goes down.
David S. says
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Thank you Sheriff and your great team of Crista Rainey, Sgt. Emery and Deputy Carter. My hubby was on I-95 when the ‘red car passed him and commented on the dedication of your agency. Kudos and thanks so much for everything you are doing in spite of not have a nice, healthy, clean cozy headquarters to call ‘home’.
Bunnell boy says
Bonnie please read the story. They shut the road down during the arrest , not for pictures!
Bunnell Boy, the arrest had been made. The guy was in the backseat of a cop car or on his way to jail. Instead of standing around taking group pictures they should have been working to open up the interstate. the guys car should have quickly been moved to the shoulder to await a wrecker for towing and the road opened to interstate travel. To hold up traffic while you have your picture taken is arrogant.
You say “The amount of officers and technology available should allow to just let him run and catch up at a safer point.”
What technology? How do you “catch up” when you are not pursuing? The dude is a violent offender who has been on the run for some time… so… catching up is not possible by pulling over and letting him go.
It’s all in a days work … Taking pictures isn’t necessary that’s why you’re in law enforcement to serve and protect …
@WOW no bail
I love seeing STALY part of it all, YOU go Sheriff
Hazard County says
I wonder if Sheriff Roscoe P Coltrane has his dog Flash in the passenger seat during that chase?
Bunnell boy says
Concerned citizen, it’s awful funny, Staly been in the thick of things with his men since he’s been in office. It wasn’t election year then. People like you just aren’t used to having a sheriff that got some guts, compared to some Barney Fifes in the past!
Sheriff Staley and his deputies are truly a top-notch agency.
Faces charges in 3 Counties snd has a long illustrious criminal record. Make his career a jail cell for a decade already and stop letting dirtbag out. Smh bye bye
Concenrned Citizen says
@ Bunnell Boy
Having spent my time in Law Enforcement there was no need for the Sheriff to go out of his way responding to this call. While I appreciate his candor this was a situation he did not need to interject himself in.
His Watch Commanders and Line Deputies should have been capable on their own. Not to mention the other supporting Law Enforcement officers on scene.
Every time the Sheriff gets involved in a situation it makes the media. If you don’t think he doesn’t capitalize on this then think again.
Either the Sheriff doesn’t trust his staff or he’s media hungry. One of these days running around pointing his weapon at people might end up putting him in a bad situation.