A 30-year-old man believed to be driving away after shoplifting at a Northside Walmart was killed Thursday when his car went off the side of an overpass near Interstate 95.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says Phillip Bryant (pictured below) fought with the loss prevention workers at the store at the River City Marketplace and ran out after he got loose. Police officers were on their way to Walmart when they spotted the man fleeing, so they turned around to try and catch him.
"They determined that it's not worth it, so they went ahead and turned off their blue lights and sirens and made a U-turn," said Sgt. Donald Washington Jr.
The driver continued at a high speed and went over the side of the Clark Road overpass just before 11 a.m., about a mile beyond where officers ended their pursuit.
Jacksonville Fire-Rescue said the victim was trapped inside the car, which suffered so much damage the make and model were not immediately identified.
Channel 4 spoke with a witness Thursday night who saw the man run from security guards at the Northside Walmart he was stealing from.
Cheryl McCain and her husband were getting last-minute Halloween supplies at the Walmart when they saw security stop the man as he was leaving the store.
"They started getting him to the floor, he started yelling that his back was hurting him and all of the sudden, he got up and took off running to the other side of the exit and entrance," said Cheryl McCain. "Ran out the door to the parking lot and ran to his car and sped off."
"He is lying in the middle of the aisle in Walmart and I am thinking to myself, 'Who is watching him,' and I soon as I saw one of the security guards walk off and call 911, I kind of figured he was going to get up and run and sure enough, that is what he did," said Charles McCain.
"I don't know what to think, the security guy was like, 'Call 911, call 911,' so I called 911," said Cheryl McCain. "When he took off, the first thought in my mind is I hope he does not hurt anyone or hurt himself."
Clark Road was closed for several hours while the accident was investigated and cleared.
Bryant has been arrested by Jacksonville police 10 times since 2006 on charges including marijuana possession (four times), credit card fraud (twice), domestic battery, child neglect and fleeing police.