Sheriff: Florida man throws infant at deputies after leading them on car chase

(Indian River County Sheriff's Office)

A Florida man faces felony child abuse charges after investigators say he led authorities on a lengthy police chase -- then threw a 2-month-old baby at a deputy while he attempted to flee on foot.

The Indian River County Sheriff's Office said the incident happened May 26, and began when a deputy attempted a traffic stop on State Road 60 in Vero Beach for failure to maintain the lane. 

Instead of pulling over, the driver, later identified as 32-year-old John Henry James III, took off.

During the course of the chase, the sheriff's office said James struck the front end of a detective's vehicle, dodged roadblocks and at least one attempted stop-stick deployment. He ran over another set of stop-sticks, but they failed to disable the car.

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Due to the number of people in the residential area of Gifford, the sheriff's office decided to tell deputies to stand down and turn off their lights and sirens. They instead monitored James' whereabouts from their helicopter and had deputies follow from a distance.

After about 40 minutes, James drove into the Taylor Pointe Apartments, where deputies boxed him in.

As the suspect bailed out of the car, he grabbed the 2-month-old boy who had been in the vehicle with him and threw the infant in the direction of a deputy.


(Indian River County Sheriff's Office)

The deputy successfully caught the baby and took the child to safety.

After James threw the infant, the sheriff's office said he fled on foot through trees and between buildings. Deputies took him to the ground, where he continued to resist.

"He kicked and bit at deputies and struggled when being loaded into the back of a deputy's cruiser," the sheriff's office wrote on Facebook, where they posted dash cam and aerial video of the incident. "Once in the car, he complained he could not breathe and told the deputy he has asthma."

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The deputy drove James to a nearby fire station where EMTs could evaluate him, but investigators said he continued resisting even while being placed on the stretcher to be loaded into an ambulance to go to the hospital.

James was medically cleared from the hospital on June 1 after being treated for a pre-existing condition and was booked into the Indian River County Jail on two felony counts of aggravated child abuse, felony aggravated battery on an officer/firefighter/EMT, reckless driving, and resisting arrest with violence. He is being held without bond.

"You can’t throw a baby at us and expect us to treat you with kid gloves," Sheriff Eric Flowers said, following the incident.