Motorcyclist hits deputy in Sarasota after two-county chase

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- A Venice man was arrested Tuesday night on numerous charges after authorities say he fled from Bradenton to Venice to Sarasota and drove his motorcycle into a deputy who tried to arrest him.

39-year-old Brian Tharp has been charged with Aggravated Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer, Possession of a Weapon by a Convicted Felon, Driving While License Suspended, Resisting Arrest, Operating a Motorcycle without a License, and Reckless Driving.

The incident began just before 8pm in the area of 15th Street East and 57th Avenue in Bradenton.  According to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, a deputy spotted a confirmed stolen motorcycle and attempted a traffic stop. That's when the driver, Tharp, fled the scene.

He drove to I-75 and headed south.  Along the way a backpack fell from the motorcycle and was recovered by deputies.

With air units following, Tharp continued south on I-75, reaching speeds in excess of 140 miles per hour.  He exited onto River Road in Venice and made his way to a residence on N. Havana Road, where he refueled the motorcycle with the help of another person.

He then fled on the motorcycle again, eventually heading north, driving recklessly on U.S. 41 into Sarasota.  According to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, just north of Weber Street, Tharp ran into traffic caused by three sheriff's units and bumped into one of the units.

A deputy told Tharp to stop, but fired his taser on him when he ignored the commands.  Tharp then reportedly got back on the bike and accelerated toward a deputy on foot.  Tharp's bike struck the deputy, then he lost control and fell to the ground, where he was arrested.

The backpack Manatee County deputies contained a "trafficking amount" of methamphetamine.


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