Knife-wielding man in wheelchair injures 2 Winter Haven officers

Polk County
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Two Winter Haven police officers are recovering after being hurt by a man in a wheelchair armed with a 9-inch knife.

The officers were responding to a call at Central Tavern on Central Avenue around 12:30 a.m. Friday when the incident happened. The call came in for a man who apparently had a large knife attached to his wheelchair, which he kept taking out and showing. The man left before police arrived.

Responding officers found 29-year-old Emmanuel Ruiz Mejia around the corner from the tavern in front of another business. When they approached him and told him they were investigating a possible disturbance, they say Mejia tried to roll past them in his wheelchair.

Officers saw a large sword-style knife on the back of his wheelchair and removed it for safety reasons. As they continued trying to talk to him, they also noticed he had his left hand under his thigh, apparently clinching something. 

An arrest report says Mejia refused to show both hands, even when an officer took his taser out. Officer Kristopher Corley eventually used his taser on Mejia.

When Mejia pulled his hands from under his legs, police say he was holding a large serrated knife which he refused to surrender. Officers then tackled Mejia to the ground to try and get the knife.

During the struggle, police say Mejia thrust the knife at Officer Corley’s face. After being tased by Officer Edgardo Cruz, police say Mejia picked his knife back up and threw it at Officer Cruz. 

Mejia was eventually handcuffed and taken into custody. 

Both officers suffered cuts and were treated at the scene.

“We are thankful that the injuries sustained to Officers Corley and Cruz are minor and they ultimately can go home to their family,” Chief Charlie Bird said in a statement. “This guy had no regard for life whatsoever and he is where he belongs and hopefully will stay there for a long time.”

After being evaluated at Winter Haven Hospital, Mejia was taken to the Polk County Jail. He is facing charges of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting officers with violence.

According to his arrest report, Mejia told officers he was at the tavern drinking a Budweiser and doesn’t remember anything that happened. He also told police he believes he was tranquilized and woke up to being tasered by officers.

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