NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – It was just past 12:30 p.m. last Thursday afternoon at a gas station on State Road 200 where Nassau County deputies surrounded a red Toyota Prius driven by Divine McLeod, 28.
Moments prior to the interaction, a woman called 911 and said that McLeod cut her off in traffic on Interstate 95 then pulled up next to her, pointed a gun at her and verbally threatened to shoot her. Video obtained by News4JAX showed deputies ordering McLeod to get out of the car.
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“Where’s the person at? You cannot say someone called you and come up. I’m on my way to somewhere else right now. Way far away,” he said.
“Get out of the car,” a deputy responded, but McLeod refused, the video showed.
After ignoring the deputy’s commands, the situation turned violent when they pulled him out of the car and slammed him to the ground.
A deputy then asked about a bag that was tied around Mcleod’s waist. Deputies said they later found two loaded handguns inside.
Deputies finally got the bag and put handcuffs on McLeod. But as they attempted to put him into a patrol unit, McLeod took off running and lead deputies on a brief foot chase across Westbound State Road 200 while still handcuffed. He caused an oncoming truck slams on the brakes and seconds later he tripped and fell in the median.
[WARNING: The video below contains profanity and images some viewers might find disturbing]
“Alright, I’m down. I swear I won’t run anymore,” he said.
One of the guns deputies found was reported stolen from Ocala. Then they found a third loaded handgun in the passenger seat, they said.
Deputies said they believe McLeod was trying to pull one of the guns from the bag when he was on the ground.
In 2017, he was one of three suspects charged with murder in North Carolina after a drug deal turned into a botched armed robbery. His murder charge was later reduced to manslaughter and armed robbery after he took a plea deal and testified against the other co-defendants.
He was released from prison in 2021.
The incident brought back difficult memories for Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper.
“In my mind, I revert back to what happened to Deputy Oliver when he ran across after a suspect,” he said.
He’s referring to Nassau County Deputy Eric Oliver who was killed back in 2016 when he got hit by a vehicle while chasing a man across a roadway. Oliver was assisting border patrol when he was killed.
“The whole situation was dangerous,” Leeper said referring to last week’s incident. “Not just with the weapons but with him crossing a busy roadway. He could have been hit. The deputies could have been hit.”
Sheriff Leeper says the public must realize that when a law enforcement officer is chasing a suspect on foot, they are laser-focused on the suspect and not what’s happening around them.
He says that’s what makes the chase so much more dangerous because they don’t want to lose sight of what the suspect is doing during the chase.