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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

‘I don’t want to go back to jail’: Man leads Marion deputies on high-speed chase

A 38-year-old man is behind bars after he ran a stop sign in Reddick and led Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputies on a high-speed chase that came to an end in Citra.

On Wednesday, two MCSO deputies were in a stationary patrol car near the intersection of NW 155th Street and Highway 441 in Reddick when a red pickup truck was observed running a stop sign at the intersection. The driver and sole occupant of the vehicle was later identified as Graham Harley Taggart, according to the arrest report.

Graham Harley Taggart
Graham Harley Taggart, 38, of Citra

The report stated that Taggart traveled at a high rate of speed and crossed the northbound lane of Highway 441 into the median. His pickup truck then “fishtailed” nearly 180 degrees before traveling southbound on Highway 441 with a “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”

Both deputies eventually caught up to the pickup truck, and a traffic stop was attempted in the 13400 block of S Highway 441. Taggart refused to stop and led the deputies to the intersection of highway 329 and Highway 441, where he narrowly avoided two cars at the red light while maneuvering to the left turn lane, according to the report.

Taggart then ran the red light, made a U-turn, and headed northbound on Highway 301 at speeds reaching 70 to 75 miles per hour. When he reached the intersection of E Highway 316, the report stated that the pickup truck swerved and nearly exited the roadway onto the grass shoulder.

While approaching the intersection of NE 175th Street and Highway 301, Taggart stopped quickly to avoid colliding with a semi-truck that had stopped in front of him. He then proceeded to turn onto 175th Street and began heading eastbound, and he attempted to “brake check” one of the deputies, according to the report.

Deputies continued to pursue Taggart as his pickup truck reached speeds of up to 90 miles per hour. He eventually approached the intersection of 175th Street and Highway 316, and deputies observed the pickup truck as it ran the stop sign at the intersection and headed westbound on Highway 316.

The report stated that deputies placed stop sticks on the roadway near the intersection of Highway 316 and NE 47th Avenue, though Taggart avoided them by briefly swerving off the roadway. Additional stop sticks were placed near the railroad tracks at the intersection of Highway 316 and NE 21st Avenue Road, and they managed to puncture the pickup truck’s front driver’s side tire.

The punctured tire was “falling apart” as the pickup truck ran another stop sign and turned onto NE Jacksonville Road. The vehicle finally came to a stop in the 15600 block of NE Jacksonville Road in Citra, and Taggart exited the vehicle, according to the report.

Taggart initially tensed his muscles and tucked his right arm in front of him to prevent the deputies from securing him in handcuffs, though the report stated that he eventually surrendered and was detained in the back of a patrol car.

Deputies learned that during the pursuit, Taggart had called his father and stated, “I don’t know what to do, I don’t want to go back to jail,” according to the report.

Taggart was arrested and transported to Marion County Jail where he is currently being held on $6,500 bond. He is facing a felony charge for fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer with disregard of safety to persons or property, along with misdemeanor charges for reckless driving (first offense) and resisting an officer without violence.

A court date has not been scheduled yet, according to jail records.