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Dope suspect runs over, hospitalizes police officer

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

BUFORD -- A Gwinnett County Police Department officer was hospitalized this week after a marijuana suspect reportedly ran him over in a Pontiac.

Officer C. Van Alen escaped the Monday night ordeal with superficial injuries and was released from hospital care that night. The driver and a passenger bolted from the scene and could not be found, but detectives have learned their identities, police said.

"(The officer) is doing OK," said Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith. "Just some significant bruising, no broken bones."

Gwinnett officers investigating a fight call on Arnold Street in Buford spotted the car at a stop sign about 11 p.m. and questioned its two occupants. One officer recognized the passenger from a call weeks prior and detected "a strong odor of marijuana coming from the car" and a roll of cash in the console, according to a police report.

The men denied having anything illegal in the car but did not consent to a search.

"I explained to the driver and passenger we did have probable cause because I could smell marijuana," an officer wrote.

A physical altercation ensued between Van Alen and the driver, the report says. Van Alen busted the driver's window with his flashlight as the driver sped off, running over the officer's foot and knocking him to the ground in the process.

Van Alen was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center as patrol units searched for the vehicle, to no avail.

Using a previous mug shot and information from the earlier call, police identified the passenger as Lawrenceville resident Antonio English, 39. Smith said an investigation has led a detective to believe the driver was Cedric Damon Buffington, 26, of Atlanta.

Buffington is charged in Gwinnett with aggravated assault upon a peace officer with a deadly weapon, according to an arrest warrant.

Buffington and English remained at large Thursday. Both have extensive arrest records in Gwinnett. Their vehicle is described in the report as a gray or blue Pontiac with New York tags.