Sheriff’s Office Says Man Gets in Altercation of Pinellas Deputy After Fleeing Traffic Stop


The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has issued a press release about an incident that occurred in Largo at about 7:15PM on Thursday, February 9, 2017

According to the press release, Deputy Richard Curry was on patrol when he observed a 2004 Toyota SUV fail to make a complete stop for a posted stop sign at the intersection of 134th Avenue North and Trotter Road.

Deputy Curry activated his emergency lights in an attempt to initiate a traffic stop for the traffic violation. The driver of the SUV did not stop and continued driving the speed limit northbound on Trotter Road. While following behind the SUV, Deputy Curry observed the male driver moving around inside the vehicle, and reaching towards the glove box.  The vehicle pulled into a driveway and stopped at a residence located at 2623 Dryer Avenue, in Largo.

The driver, who was later identified as 32-year-old Stephen Kunkler of Cape Coral, exited the SUV and refused to provide Deputy Curry with his identification. The report indicated that Kunkler took a defensive posture towards Deputy Curry and began stepping backwards as if he was going to flee from the scene. Deputy Curry gave Kunkler verbal commands but Kunkler refused to comply and continued backing away from the deputy.

Deputy Curry deployed his electronic control device striking Kunkler, but the device was ineffective. Kunkler fled the scene on foot and Deputy Curry gave chase. When Deputy Curry grabbed Kunkler in the backyard of a nearby residence, Kunkler aggressively resisted and struck the deputy multiple times with his elbow, his feet, and his fists.

Kunkler continued resisting and fighting with Deputy Curry for more than two minutes. At one point during the struggle, Kunkler tried reaching for his waist band. Deputy Curry and responding deputies used non-lethal force to gain control of Kunkler and secured him in handcuffs.

After Kunkler was taken into custody, deputies found a 9mm handgun on the ground under Kunkler’s body, near his waistband. It was later determined that Kunkler had a concealed weapons permit and was in legal possession of the firearm.

Deputy Curry and Kunkler were both transported to a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

After being medically cleared, Kunkler was transported to the Pinellas County Jail without incident. Deputy Curry was released from the hospital with a hand injury.

Kunkler was charged with one count of Fleeing and Eluding, one count of Battery on Law Enforcement Officer, and four counts of Resisting Arrest with Violence.

The investigation continues.




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