Polk man tries to kill housemate with truck after night of drinking and smoking pot, deputies say

A Polk County man tried to run his housemate over and kill him Tuesday after the two spent the night driving around drinking and smoking pot.
Detectives said Larry Washington purposefully ran over a man with his truck Tuesday morning after the two had spent the night driving around while drinking and smoking pot. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
Detectives said Larry Washington purposefully ran over a man with his truck Tuesday morning after the two had spent the night driving around while drinking and smoking pot. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
Published October 11
Updated October 11

If the fence hadn’t gotten in the truck’s way, Herminio Rivera might be dead. Instead, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said, he escaped with a broken leg and his life.

Deputies said Larry Washington, 49, purposefully hit Rivera with a truck Tuesday. Washington was arrested and faces a charge of attempted murder.

The two had been driving around Bartow Monday night in a white Chevy pickup truck borrowed from the group home where they live, according to the Sheriff’s Office. As they drove through Gordon Heights, Washington and the 32-year-old Rivera drank and smoked pot. Just after midnight, they stopped in a Park on Dudley Drive to smoke some more, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Washington told detectives the two got into an argument in the park and Rivera started hitting him with a metal rod. So, as Rivera tried to run away, Washington got in the truck and ran him over. Detectives said Washington destroyed a park bench, hit a tree and got caught on a 6-foot chain-link fence in the process.

"If someone is beating you with a metal rod, you have every right to defend yourself,” Sheriff Grady Judd said in a news release. “But if that person hits you and runs away, call 911. Don't try to run him down with your truck. It's not only nuts, it's illegal. It's attempted murder."

Washington, it seems, hoped it would have been murder.

“During a post-Miranda recorded interview, the suspect repeatedly stated that he intentionally ran the victim over and when he gets out he is going to kill him,” detectives said in Washington’s arrest report. “He said the only reason he stopped tonight was that the truck was hung up on the fence and he could not get to the victim.”

The Sheriff’s Office said Rivera suffered serious injuries, including an open fracture on his right leg. He was transported to Lakeland Regional Health where he was sedated and put on a breathing tube.

Washington has a lengthy criminal record in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Correction, he’s had four stints in prison since 1995.

After he was arrested, Washington told detectives he is bipolar and schizophrenic, but said he was of sound mind when he hit Rivera. Four hours after the incident, detectives said, Washington stated he still planned on killing Rivera when given the chance.

Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at dfigueroa@tampabay.com. Follow @danuscripts.

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