Driver accused of crashing into patrol cars during fast chase, punching police dog

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The driver of a pickup driver accused by sheriff’s deputies of driving 90 mph down one of the county’s busiest roads fled when a deputy tried to pull him over, rammed patrol vehicles, rolled his truck in the lawn of a nearby home and punched a deputy’s dog, authorities said.

Matthew David Pigon Cornish, 23, of Gainesville remained in the county jail Tuesday on a $70,000 bond. The K-9 he was accused of punching several times, Knight, was not seriously injured, said Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Kaley Behl. Cornish was recovering from what appeared to be cuts to his forehead, nose and lip, visible in his booking mug shot.

Matthew David Pigon Cornish, 23, of Gainesville remained in the county jail Tuesday on a $70,000 bond. (Courtesy of Alachua County Sheriff’s Office)

A deputy, Sgt. Frank Williams, said he saw Cornish driving his Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD pickup at 90 mph and tailgating and weaving around other drivers at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday on Southwest Archer Road just west of Interstate 75, where the speed limit is 45 mph. The road is near some of the area’s busiest retail stores and restaurants.

Williams said Cornish turned into a side street that was a dead end, where he rammed a vehicle driven by another pursuing deputy, Mikell McKoy, before he lost control of his pickup and it rolled in the yard of a home. Two women were also in the truck but apparently were not injured, according to the sheriff’s arrest report. 

Deputies said they found about three-fourths of a pound of marijuana and a small amount of cocaine in the wrecked pickup. 

Williams said Cornish tried to flee the crash on foot but was caught several blocks from the scene. He said Cornish punched the sheriff’s dog several times in the head and face before he was arrested. 

Cornish could not be reached for comment. He was in the Alachua County jail, where the sheriff’s office does not permit detainees to speak with news organizations without the signed consent of a defense lawyer and a senior jail official. 

Cornish is facing charges of aggravated fleeing and eluding police, aggravated assault on law enforcement, resisting arrest without violence, marijuana possession, cocaine possession, possession of a synthetic drug, leaving the scene of a crash with property damage, and hitting a police dog.

Cornish has felony convictions from 2018 when he was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to sell. He was re-arrested for violating pretrial release because he was arrested for marijuana possession in Union County. 

Cornish was also involved in a hit-and-run case in 2018 but was not convicted, according to court records

In May, the sheriff’s office ticketed him for driving with a suspended or revoked license. In August, he was accused of aggravated battery after authorities said he purposely crashed into the car belonging to his on-again, off-again girlfriend when she tried to get away from him after a fight, according to court records. That case is pending.

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This is a breaking news story. Check back for further developments. Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

About Alexa Herrera

Alexa is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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