During routine patrol of the Southeast District at 3:18 a.m. on Thursday, January 18, 2007, Deputy Sheriff Austin Milligan, who has been with the agency for 18 months and is 23 years old, made a traffic stop on a vehicle that was operating without tag lights on Eagle Lake Loop Road, near Rifle Range Road. The deputy asked the driver for his driver’s license, to which the driver replied that he did not have one. The deputy asked the driver for his name, which the driver gave as “Juan Morales.” From that point forward, the driver began acting very nervous and suspicious, so the deputy asked him to step out of the car.
According to the arrest affidavit, as soon as the driver exited the vehicle and the deputy again asked him for his real name, he immediately fled on foot. The deputy engaged in a foot pursuit of the suspect, jumping over several chain link fences and through backyards of residences. The deputy attempted to deploy his agency-issued Taser, which merely caused the suspect to fall to the ground, as the prongs from the Taser did not connect to his person. As soon as the suspect fell, the deputy attempted to place him in handcuffs. At that point the suspect became very violent. He ripped off the wire from the deputy’s radio, depriving the deputy of communications with which to call for assistance. He then punched Deputy Milligan in the face with his closed fist, at which time the deputy grabbed his agency-issued flashlight to help fend off the suspect’s blows. The suspect and deputy struggled over control of the flashlight until the deputy was able to gain control of it. Deputy Milligan was then finally able to utilize his Taser to deliver several drive-stuns (placing the base of the Taser directly on the body) to the suspect to gain control of him and place him in handcuffs. Once inside the patrol car, the suspect rammed his head over and over into the rear window of the car.
A search of the suspect’s vehicle revealed a small glass object, similar in appearance to a “bong,” which field-tested positive for marijuana. The suspect’s real identity was revealed through the driver’s license database and Florida Crime Information Center (FCIC) as Eleuterio Ayala, DOB 9/26/82, of 119 8th Street in Eloise. His license had been suspended, and he had a felony warrant for his arrest for Forgery and Petit Theft. The suspect was taken to Bartow Memorial Hospital to be treated for his injuries incurred during his flight from and struggle with the deputy, and then released to the deputy to be booked into the Polk County Jail. His felony charges are: Attempted Robbery (F-2) (for trying to take the deputy’s equipment); Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) (F-3); Depriving a LEO of Communication (F-3); Resisting an Officer with Violence (F-3); and the following misdemeanor charges are: Giving a False Name to an LEO; Possession of Cannabis under 20 grams; Possession of Drug Paraphernalia; DWLSR.
Sheriff Grady Judd says, “This is just one of many examples of how a routine traffic stop can turn dangerous in the blink of an eye. Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line everyday to put criminals like this one behind bars. For our safety, and yours, don’t run from the law. It’s not smart, and it is against the law.”