SWEETWATER (CBS4) – A man who led police on nearly a half mile chase on the Tamiami Trail in Sweetwater claims he was unarmed when police open fired on him during a traffic stop.

The incident began Monday morning when a Sweetwater police officer stopped a black Mercedes-Benz which he thought was being driven erratically, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald. He ran a check on the car and it came back as stolen.

According to police the driver, 22-year old Felipe Torrealba and his passenger, 23-year old Dondrey St. Phar, were pulled from the car as more officers arrived. At one point, Torrealba ran back to the car to get a gun, according to police.

Officers then reportedly opened fire, hitting both the Mercedes and another vehicle. About half a mile away, Torrealba crashed in to a pick up truck. At that point, police said Torrealba then jumped out of the car, swam across the canal and disappeared into a nearby neighborhood.

Sweetwater police maintain Torrealba was ‘armed and dangerous’ when he drove off from the traffic stop.

Torrealba’s attorney disputes that. Attorney Jim Lewis said during the traffic stop police searched both his client and car and did not find a weapon. He said Torrealba tried to escape because of two unrelated outstanding warrants.

Sweetwater police have not said how long the two men were out of the car or if they were searched.

On Tuesday Lewis said he knew where Torrealba was staying and was making arrangements to have his client turn himself in.

(TM and © Copyright 20121 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.)


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