Tennessee man accused of theft, assaulting first responder after chase

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee man is accused of leading police on a chase after allegedly stealing a vehicle and then assaulting a first responder, authorities said.

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Michael Ruggiero, 37, of Maryville, was charged with five counts of aggravated assault, one count of theft $10,000 and $60,000, one count of felony evading arrest in a vehicle and one count of evading arrest, according to Knox County Sheriff’s Office online booking records.

According to the sheriff’s office, after a 2013 Mustang GT was stolen from a Weigel’s convenience store just before 4 p.m. EDT Monday, deputies observed Ruggiero driving the vehicle, WATE-TV reported. Deputies said Ruggiero ignored emergency signals to pull over and led them on a chase that exceeded 90 mph, according to the television station.

Ruggiero began driving on the shoulder of the highway and also on the wrong side of the road, WBIR reported. According to an arrest report, when deputies tried to box in Ruggiero on the highway, he swerved at them and attempted to ram their cruisers, the television station reported.

Deputies’ attempts to use a Taser on Ruggiero were ineffective, WATE reported. When he exited the vehicle, Ruggiero allegedly began fighting with deputies who attempted to apprehend him, according to the television station.

Deputy Robert Simpson reported punching Ruggiero several times in the abdomen, WBIR reported. Ruggiero sustained several injuries while fighting and resisting officers, according to WATE.

Ruggiero was taken to an area hospital after detention center officials refused to accept him because of a possible dislocated knee, according to WBIR.

Ruggiero is scheduled to appear in Knox County Criminal Court on Thursday for a bond hearing, the television station reported.