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Manhunt under way after Rochelle Park cop run over

September 14, 2012 3:47:16 AM PDT
Authorities in New Jersey are looking for a motorist accused of fleeing after hitting a police officer with his car.

Officer Christopher Rios was responding to a harassment complaint in Rochelle Park on Thursday when he approached a black 2008 Toyota Avalon. The driver, identified as Lawrence Nelson, allegedly put the car in gear and took off, striking Rios.

Police say the 25-year-old officer was tossed on the hood and was carried about 40 feet before falling off. He was treated for bumps and bruises.

"The suspect threw the car into reverse, hooking the officer with the mirror, as he pulled out backwards at a high rate of speed," Rochelle Park Police Chief Robert Flannelly said. "The officer was thrown onto the hood of the vehicle, as the driver went forward. The officer was thrown on top of the car, onto the windshield, off the trunk and into the street."

An arrest warrant was issued for Nelson charging him with aggravated assault on a police officer and eluding an officer. Nelson's Madison Avenue home in Rochelle Park was dark Thursday evening as police waited for the 52-year-old to return home. He never showed up.

Now, a manhunt is under way.

Police say the car has New Jersey license plates Z82-AFK, but they urge residents not to approach the suspect.

"I would advise people not to approach him," Flannelly said. "Anyone that would run a police officer over with a car should be considered dangerous."

Meanwhile, Eyewitness News is told all this trouble began at Ray's Pizza in town.

A female worker complained Nelson was making unwanted advances at her and making her very uncomfortable.

Eyewitness News is told he is a former postal worker and perhaps obsessed with the young woman.

Neighbors describe him as paranoid and unstable.

"I just wish Larry would get some help, if he needs it, that's what it comes down to," next-door neighbor Anthony Lauria said.

Nelson is reportedly well known to police, who report they have received many complaints over the years. But this is the first time it ended so violently, they said.

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