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Officer Injured While Detaining Suspect

Suspect and officer fell down a sheer vertical embankment.

A City of Fredericksburg police officer and the suspect he was pursing were injured Tuesday when they fell about 12 feet down a sheer vertical embankment.

Natatia Bledsoe, Fredericksburg Police Department Public Information Officer said in a press release Officer Ryan Merrell attempted to pull over a black Mitsubishi at 11:55 p.m. Tuesday, after the vehicle ran the red light at Jefferson Davis Highway and College Avenue. 

The driver of the Mitsubishi, later identified as Tavaras Walls, pulled into the parking lot of Stratford Square Apartments, abandoned the car and ran.  Officer Merrell pursued on foot.  As he placed his hands on the fleeing driver to detain him, Walls stepped over a low brick ledge and plunged approximately 12 feet down a sheer vertical embankment, taking Merrell with him, Bledsoe said.

Another officer arrived on the scene and found both Walls and Merrell lying at the foot of the retaining wall.

Walls, age 38, was transported by ambulance to Mary Washington Hospital with non life-threatening injuries. He was released from the hospital this morning and incarcerated without bond at the Rappahannock Regional Jail.  He is charged with:

  • Running a red light
  • Eluding
  • DUI (4th offense)
  • Driving with a revoked license while intoxicated
  • Possession of marijuana

A search warrant was executed on Walls while he was in the emergency room to
allow for the collection of blood evidence.

Officer Merrell was transported to the hospital in a police vehicle. Merrell, 26, suffered non life-threatening injuries from his fall.  It is currently unknown when he will be able to return to patrol, Bledsoe said.

The City of Fredericksburg Police Department provided this information.  Where an arrest is mentioned, it does not indicate a conviction.

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