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Driver strikes officers and takes off, police say

Two plainclothes Suffolk County police officers suffered minor injuries Thursday when they were struck by a van driven by a Bohemia man fleeing from authorities during a traffic stop in Ridge, police said.

Robert McDowell, 31, hit Sgt. Patrick Kelly and Officer Brian Klammer with his vehicle as they stood on either side of his van during a traffic stop at around 6:25 p.m., police said. 

Kelly suffered injuries to his hand, wrist and knee, while Klammer injured his hand, knee and lower leg. Both were treated at Stony Brook University Hospital and released, police said.

McDowell, who had three outstanding misdemeanor warrants, was charged with two counts of second-degree assault, tampering with physical evidence, criminal impersonation, resisting arrest, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and operating a motor vehicle without an interlock device.

He was arraigned Friday at First District Court in Central Islip and held on $63,000 cash or $135,000 bond.

McDowell was driving a 2002 Ford van southbound on Smith Road when Kelly and Klammer, gang unit officers in the Seventh Precinct, initiated a traffic stop near Strathmore Ridge Drive, police said.

During the traffic stop, the officers discovered McDowell was driving with a suspended license and asked him to step out of the vehicle, police said. McDowell, who identified himself using the name of his brother, refused, put the van in drive and accelerated, striking the two officers, police said.

Despite their injuries, both officers pursued the fleeing vehicle, authorities said. While being chased, McDowell tossed bags of heroin out of his vehicle, police said.

McDowell, fleeing south on William Floyd Parkway, was brought to a halt south of Yaphank Commons Drive, police said. Canine section officers recovered the drugs.

The suspect "remained combative and had to be removed from the vehicle, subdued, and arrested," police said. He was treated at Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue for minor cuts and bruises. McDowell's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

McDowell told police that he fled because "I got nervous, scared and I panicked when they told me to get out of the van," according to the criminal complaint. "I used my brother's name because I had bench warrants. I took off and threw empty heroin bags out the window because they were old and I didn't want to get charged with them."

He is due back in court Wednesday.

Two plainclothes Suffolk County police officers suffered minor injuries Thursday when they were struck by a Bohemia man fleeing from authorities during a traffic stop in Ridge, police said.

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