A 26-year-old homeless man, Benjerman Jerald Bridges, was arrested and booked into the St Johns County Detention Facility in the wee hours Sunday morning following an ordeal with police who were investigating the theft of two portable radios worth less than $20 combined.
The victim was fishing on the San Sebastian River off Ponce de Leon Boulevard late Saturday night when he noticed the light come on inside his nearby parked car. He approached his vehicle and noticed the defendant rummaging through its contents. When the owner yelled out to Bridges, he told police that Bridges ran away.
The owner returned to the location where he had been fishing to collect his things and then called police to report the crime. When police arrived, just before midnight, they observed that a glass window had been broken out of the vehicle to gain entry. An interior inspection by the owner revealed that two small radios were missing from the center console.
The owner spotted Bridges in the river. Police called to Bridges to come out of the water. He refused, and yelled profanities at the officers in reply. Bridges accused police of wanting to kill him, according to the incident report.
Three officers obtained a small boat from St Johns County Fire Rescue in an attempt to extract Bridges from the river. Bridges reportedly attempted to capsize the boat as the officers on board approached. According to police, Bridges was attempting to avoid capture by repeatedly ducking his head under the water and hiding behind a pylon.
Refusing to comply with the officer’s continued demands to come ashore, Bridges told police that he’d rather drown than come with them. He told police that he was “just looking” inside the car and called the victim a “snitch”.
Officers were able to spray Bridges with a chemical agent when he got close to their boat. He began flailing in the water and screamed that he was going to drown. Officers pulled him from the water and transported him to Flagler Hospital for a medical clearance before leaving him at the county jail.
The St Augustine Police Department report says that while Bridges was being treated at the hospital, he attempted to break his restraints and continued screaming the entire time.
The radios taken were valued at $10 and $8 respectively, the victim told police. Bridges was charged with burglary, a third-degree felony, and resisting an officer, a first-degree misdemeanor. He remains in custody at this time in lieu of $3,000 bond.