A Bunnell man has been convicted on seven counts in connection with a Nov. 6, 2017,Â incident in which heÂ threatened deputies with a knife and punched a police dog after stealing his mother’s SUV.Â
Matthew Nesbitt, 44, was convicted by a Flagler County jury July 25 of:Â grand theft motor vehicle, fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement, resisting an officer with violence, battery on a police dog,Â and three counts ofÂ aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.
The incident began when Nesbitt, who was already on probation for other crimes, was suspected of stealing his mother’s GMC Jimmy. When deputies tried to stop the vehicle Nov. 6, Nesbitt ditched the SUV on Zebulahs Trail, hopped a fence and ran into woodline, leading deputies on a chase that would last almostÂ two-and-a-half hours.
The county called out its emergency helicopter, Fire Flight, and a Sheriff’s Office K-9 team to search for him, shutting down traffic onÂ Belle Terre Parkway, settingÂ up a perimeterÂ around the area and delaying school bus drop-offs.
A deputy with a police dog found Nesbitt, who again fled until more deputies and another K-9 caught him in the woodsÂ behind 10 Zelda Court.
Nesbitt brandished a large fixed-blade knife and threatenedÂ to kill the deputies, and a Sheriff’s Office K-9 named Marko latched onto him. NesbittÂ punchedÂ Marko multiple times to get the dog to stop biting, according to his arrest report. The dog was not injured.Â
â€śOur deputies did a great job apprehending him quickly to protect the community and school children getting home,â€ť Sheriff Rick Staly said in a news release at the time.Â â€śK-9 Marko took a bite out of crime today, so let this be a warning to future dirtbags: If you threaten my deputies, we will come after you in full force, and we will get you.”Â