Sweetwater police chief discusses chase

Fulgueira: Suspect had a weapon, dragged officer

SWEETWATER, Fla. - The Sweetwater police chief said his officers did nothing wrong when they pulled over a wanted man on Monday.

Roberto Fulgueira backed his officers who said Felipe Aaron Torrealba, 22, had a gun when they tried pulling him over near Southwest Eighth Street. Torrealba has disputed that claim.

"He would have killed a police officer or anyone else that got in the way for that matter. No doubt in my mind," said Fulgueira.

Torrealba said that when Sweetwater police pulled him over Monday, they immediately searched his car and found no weapons. Moments later, when he overheard the officers talking about arresting him on outstanding warrants, Torrealba admitted jumping back into his car and taking off. 

Torrealba said despite police officers' claims that he fired shots at them, he did not have a gun and officers started firing at him. 

"He's a career criminal. This is what we're talking about," said Fulgueira. "This is what were comparing, the word of a career criminal who was just avoid capture. That's all he was doing, and he was going to do whatever it took to do that, including kill a police officer"

Fulgueira said his officers never searched Torrealba's car.

"This was a simple traffic stop," he said. "He was driving very recklessly, and, of course, he was drunk. They found the alcohol in the car."

"He was never patted down," Fulgueira continued. "He was having a conversation with the officer. The officers were doing their preliminary investigation."

Fulgueira said Torrealba then reached into his waistband and pulled out a gun.

"That officer says, 'Gun! Gun!' And, he starts running, jumps in the car, the officer starts chasing him and grabs him by his neck in the car and he's taking off and now he's dragging the officer," said Fulgueira.

A bullet fired by Sweetwater officers hit one car, shattering the window, and the glass cut the driver. Another bullet hit Torrealba.

An active search for Torrealba has ended, but he has not turned himself in to police.

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