Not that there’s always a whole lot of it to question, but I often find myself questioning the logic of people who run from the police. For starters, you’re probably not going to get away, so why go to all the trouble? And when they do catch you, that takedown is going to suck, there’s no two ways about it. You can’t tell me that the cop you just made chase you for several blocks isn’t going to kick the living crap out of you, or at the very least put you on the ground just a bit harder than he usually would. And what if something else happens to you while you’re running? Like maybe you try to jump a fence and don’t make it? Or you get stuck in the fence trying to squeeze through a hole? Or maybe, like Bryan Zuniga, you get bitten on the face and arm by an alligator?
Rensel said the incident began about 2:47 a.m. Thursday when a deputy spotted Zuniga, who lives in Pinellas Park, weaving in his lane. The deputy put on his lights and signaled the SUV to pull over.
Instead, Rensel said, Zuniga stopped his vehicle and jumped out the passenger side. He started running, and in the process kicked a hole in a vinyl fence to escape.
Deputies pursued but didn’t find him. They issued an alert to local law enforcement.
Several hours later, they got a call from St. Petersburg police, who’d been called to St. Petersburg General Hospital for what was described as an “animal attack.”
Zuniga, a report said, told St. Petersburg authorities he was walking home when the attack happened about 5 a.m. at a bridge at 54th Avenue N and Belcher Road.
His story didn’t include anything about a traffic stop or a sheriff’s deputy.
“He stated he was watching fish jump when he fell in and was attacked by an alligator,” a St. Petersburg police officer wrote in a report.
The officer, noting that the attack would have been in a different jurisdiction, called the Sheriff’s Office. Deputies soon made the connection and realized Zuniga matched the description of the person who fled earlier.
When questioned further, Zuniga wisely stopped trying to make a go of the fish jumping story and admitted that he’d been attacked by the gator behind a water treatment plant during his escape attempt.
Apparently he also thought about asking for help at one point.
She also noted that at about 5 or 6 a.m., dispatchers took a call from a citizen who said a man approached and claimed to have been attacked by an alligator.
But when the citizen returned from getting a car, the man was gone.
Zuniga was released from the hospital later in the day and taken to the Pinellas County Jail, where he sits in lieu of $6300 bail. I’ll bet he doesn’t try to escape.