Police assault suspect arrested; officer in critical condition

Published 9:40 pm Saturday, May 19, 2012

Updated 4:30 p.m. Sunday

Suffolk spokeswoman Debbie George says the officer attacked in Saturday’s incident still is in critical condition but is showing improvement.

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No further details were released on Officer James Winslow’s condition. Police suspect Joe Louis Staton, arrested after a massive manhunt Saturday, in the attack.

Updated 9:40 p.m.

A Suffolk police officer who was attacked and severely beaten by a man after a traffic stop Saturday morning is in critical condition following emergency surgery at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, Suffolk officials said Saturday afternoon.

Joe L. Staton

Following a massive manhunt for the assailant in the woods in the vicinity of the 1000 block of Nansemond Parkway on Saturday, police arrested Joe Louis Staton, 43, of Portsmouth.

Staton has been charged with malicious wounding of a police officer, aggravated malicious wounding, shoot, stab, cut or wound, grand larceny, possession of stolen property, burglary and third offense petit larceny.

Officers from the Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Hampton police departments, as well as the Virginia State Police, cooperated in the search, which involved police dogs and bloodhounds, a SWAT team, the city’s mobile command post and helicopter surveillance from two police helicopters.

“We certainly appreciate the assistance of the jurisdictions who came to assist us,” George said.

Officer James Winslow was flown by helicopter to the Norfolk hospital after being found unconscious in the woods by other Suffolk police officers, according to Suffolk spokesperson Debbie George.

George said Winslow was on duty on Saturday morning, when he noticed a red Ford Expedition that had been reported stolen from Norfolk. He initiated a traffic stop on Nansemond Parkway at about 8:25 a.m.

Winslow’s dashboard video, which was released to the media in hopes that the public could be on the lookout for the suspect, shows a man getting out of the driver’s side of the vehicle and taking off into the woods on the right side of the road, just as Winslow’s vehicle stopped behind the Expedition.

Winslow began pursuing the man on foot, George said, and dispatchers quickly lost radio contact with him.

Suspect

Officers arriving on the scene found him unconscious in the woods, with traumatic injuries to his head, face and arm. George said it was apparent Winslow had been hit more than once with some blunt object. She said police had not yet determined what sort of weapon had been used.

An early description of Staton, based on video from Winslow’s dashboard camera, had described him as wearing a white T-shirt. When he was caught, he was wearing a blue sweatshirt.

George said witnesses in the area of the 1000 block of Nansemond Parkway, where Staton was eventually caught, had notified police that they had seen him during the manhunt without a shirt.

Police eventually found the original white shirt, along with other items they believe Staton dropped in the woods during the pursuit. They were not sure where he had found the blue sweatshirt in which he was found, she said, but he was apprehended after he was seen running from behind a house in the area at about 3:45 p.m.

Staton was not armed at the time of his arrest, George said.

Winslow has been a member of Suffolk’s police force for the past two and a half years, George said. He is married.

 —Staff Writer Tracy Agnew contributed to this report.