'I think he was trying to kill me:' officer fights off assault by motorist during stop

A Norwood, North Carolina, police officer fought off an assault during a traffic stop Friday night near Norwood Elementary School, Norwood town officials told WSOC-TV.

Authorities said just before 9 p.m., Norwood Detective Michael Hodgson completed a traffic stop of a car, which quickly turned into a dangerous situation that left the officer fighting to stay alive.

Hodgson stopped a motorist for having a defective headlight, and was then pulled into the car by the motorist who sped away with the door still open, officials said.

Hodgson held on with his legs dangling outside of the moving vehicle at speeds estimated above 80 mph, while the driver continued to kick, punch and fight him, officials said.

"He was trying to physically harm me and/or kill me. I think he was trying to kill me," Hodgson told Norwood officials in an audio recording obtained by WSOC-TV. "He had to have been rolling at least 70, 80, 90 miles an hour with my legs dangling out (of) the car."

The driver, Timothy Robinson, was in jail for less than 12 hours. He paid more than $112,000 to bail out, which is 15 percent of his $750,000 bond.

The driver admitted he had a weapon on him and surrendered it. Moments after being asked to step out of the car, the detective continued his search.

"I had my back turned to the driver side door and he charges me, slams me up against (sic), jumps in the car. He grabs my shirt and pulls me," Hodgson said in the recording.
Officials said the driver commented that "when they got to the bridge, they would both die tonight."

“The suspect told Detective Hodgson, ‘I'm going to kill you tonight and I'm going to kill myself and I'm going to run us off the bridge," Norwood Police Chief James Wilson said.

Officials said as they approached the Rocky River bridge south of Norwood, the driver appeared to be intentionally directing the vehicle into the bridge, but Hodgson wrestled the steering wheel left as they approached the bridge to stay on the roadway, officials said.

At one point, Hodgson stunned Robinson with a Taser, got control of the steering wheel and forced the car off the road onto Highway 52 in Anson County.

Officials said the car went over an embankment, went airborne, clipped trees and came to a stop in a private backyard.

Hodgson pursued the driver and tackled him before officers assisted in the arrest.

“Last night, Norwood could have too been mourning the loss of another dedicated law enforcement officer,” said town administrator John Mullis. “By the grace of God, the event did not turn tragic. After interviewing Detective Hodgson, I am absolutely amazed at his thought processes as we ran through the previous event together.”

“Absolutely, this is a miracle,” Wilson said.

Robinson faces charges of assault to a law enforcement officer with a firearm, attempted first-degree murder, injury to personal property, resisting a public officer, kidnapping and trafficking in cocaine, among others.