Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale welcomes Officer Eric Hall back to work in September.
The head-on collision that resulted in Bradenton Beach Police Officer Eric Hall’s injuries in early March occurred behind the Island Shopping Center, at the corner of Holmes Boulevard and 55th Street, drawing a quick crowd of onlookers. Islander Photo: Courtesy Joan McArthur
A 25-year-old North Carolina woman faces up to three years in a Florida prison after being convicted Nov. 27 of grand theft auto and causing serious injury to a law enforcement officer.
Amanda Varner will be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
In early March, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach police departments were called to assist a Florida Highway Patrol helicopter and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies, who were tracking a stolen car and Varner for a North Carolina arrest warrant.
Police closed in on Varner at the Island Shopping Center in the 5400 block of Marina Drive in Holmes Beach. Bradenton Beach Police Officer Eric Hall was still on his way to the scene.
As police moved in on Varner, drawing weapons and ordering her from her vehicle, she sped out of the parking lot onto Holmes Boulevard.
Hall, coming from the other direction, was hit head on by Varner, causing serious injuries, including a broken leg that required a 15-inch metal rod to repair.
Hall was told his law enforcement career was over but, after months of rehabilitation, was medically cleared for road patrol in September and is back on the job.
Varner’s saga began in 2003 when she was the sole survivor of a North Carolina drug-related shooting in which three others with her were killed.
She was shot twice and stabbed 22 times in the encounter, and was able to crawl out of the trailer after the suspects set it on fire, assuming she was dead.
The suspects had not yet left the scene, however. They put Varner in their truck, but pushed her out when emergency vehicles began arriving. They then fled the scene and Varner’s life was spared.
Her defense attorney tried to use Varner’s near-death experience as a defense. She pleaded not guilty due to reason of insanity — post-traumatic stress disorder.
The attorney argued that when police arrived with weapons drawn in Holmes Beach, it sparked Varner’s PTSD and she acted without reason.
Hall was unable to be reached for comment before Islander press time. He previously said he doesn’t hold a grudge against Varner. He did suggest she should be taken off the streets for putting public safety at risk.
Hall said his injuries are all part of the risk every officer faces in the performance of his or her duties.
Varner remains in custody at the Manatee County jail and still faces charges in North Carolina.
Manatee County charges included: aggravated battery on an officer, motor vehicle theft, aggravated assault on a law enforcement office, resisting arrest with violence, fleeing with disregard to safety and causing injury, and serious injury while driving a motor vehicle without a driver’s license.