GAINESVILLE ‒ A 37-year-old Hawthorne man was arrested on Sunday, Dec. 10, at approximately 10:49 p.m. after he allegedly tried to hit an officer with a stolen car and then fled across Gainesville. Gainesville Police Department (GPD) officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle near Ironwood Golf Course on Northeast 39th Avenue, but the driver allegedly refused to stop and drove through the Eden Park complex.

Once the fleeing vehicle was stopped, the driver, Johnny Mack Bryant, Jr., was arrested and charged with Grand Theft of an automobile, trafficking methamphetamines, possession of cocaine with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) arrest report, GPD officers had attempted to stop the stolen white Hyundai Sonata, which had been spotted in the area of Pineridge Apartments, Northwest 23rd Terrace. While attempting to stop the car, GPD officers said that the driver of the Hyundai deliberately attempted to hit a GPD officer, who narrowly dodged the car, as the driver fled the scene.

ACSO Deputies joined the chase in the 4300 block of Southeast Hawthorne Road and deployed stop sticks, successfully stopping the vehicle.

While following the car, a GPD officer reported that he saw something thrown out the window in the area of Earl Power Park. A search of the area reportedly produced two baggies containing 21 grams of methamphetamine and six grams of cocaine and a search of the vehicle produced an Ecstasy tablet located in the driver’s side well.

Post Miranda, Bryant reportedly admitted driving the vehicle but said he didn’t know it was stolen. According to the ACSO report, he stated that “he had no knowledge that the vehicle was stolen, and that his friend told him to drive it.” Bryant also reportedly admitted swallowing an ecstasy pill during the incident. The ACSO report continued, “Based on Bryant’s admission, as well as the location of the tablet in proximity to Bryant’s location in the car, he is being charged with tampering with evidence.

Bryant was transported to Shands Hospital to be treated for ingesting narcotics.

According to law enforcement databases, Bryant has existing warrants out of Marion County and St. Johns County. GPD is also charging for fleeing and eluding law enforcement, as well as aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

Bryant has nine felony convictions, four of which were violent, and seven misdemeanor convictions, one of which was violent. In addition, he has served three state prison sentences, with his most recent release in August 2022. Bail was set at $905,000.

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