By Ashley Cox

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10)–On Saturday, February 12, 2022, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested 29-year-old Jason Starkweather of Orlando on multiple charges stemming from a traffic stop on Interstate 4.

The incident began around 8:30 a.m., on Interstate 4 in Lakeland, when a deputy working a traffic safety initiative recorded a black Ford Mustang traveling at 94 miles per hour in a 70 mile per hour zone. The Mustang was also swerving within three lanes of traffic, cutting off other motorists, and almost caused a traffic crash.

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When the deputy conducted a traffic stop, he made contact with the driver, and noted there were two passengers inside the vehicle. Starkweather provided the deputy with a Florida State Identification Card.

The deputy smelled the odor of alcohol and observed numerous open containers inside the vehicle. Starkweather’s eyes were bloodshot and watery, and his speech was slurred. He refused to follow the deputy’s commands and put the car in drive to attempt to flee.

The front seat passenger yelled at Starkweather not to run, grabbed the gear shift, and put the car in neutral. Starkweather again put the Mustang in drive and fled the scene, almost striking the deputy who was standing next to the driver’s side of the car.

The deputy returned to his patrol car, activated his emergency lights, and followed the Mustang. Starkweather stopped at the end of the S.R. 33 exit and fled from the vehicle. As Starkweather exited the Mustang, he dropped a clear plastic bag containing a white powder, which later tested positive as cocaine.

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PCSO K-9 Units, the Aviation Unit, and deputies responded to establish a perimeter. K-9 Units tracked Starkweather to the Manheim Auto Auction on S.R. 33, where he was found hiding under a van in the business parking lot.

Starkweather refused to come out and was apprehended by a PCSO K-9. Deputies spoke with both passengers, and learned that one them, 32-year-old Alex Murray of Orlando, had an active warrant for felony battery from Orange County. He was also taken into custody.

“This man has a blatant disregard for the public’s safety. He put the lives of his passengers, my deputy, and the other drivers on the road in jeopardy. We will do everything we can to hold him accountable for his actions,” said Grady Judd, Sheriff

Starkweather was arrested for:
• False Imprisonment (F3)
• Possession of Cocaine (F3)
• Fleeing to Elude (F3)
• Burglary (F3)
• Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer (F2)Resisting a Law Enforcement Officer without Violence (2 counts) (M1)
• Reckless Driving (M2)
• DUI (M2)
• Knowingly Driving with a Suspended Driver’s License (M2)
• Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (M1)
• Violation of Probation
• Orange County Warrant

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Starkweather’s previous criminal history includes 12 felonies and 7 misdemeanors, for charges of Domestic Violence Battery, DUI, Hit and Run, Grand Theft, Dealing in Stolen Property, False Verification to a Pawn Broker, Failure to Appear, multiple Driving with a Suspended Driver’s License, and Violation of Probation.