Traffic stop leads to carjacking charge

A traffic stop for a broken taillight resulted in the arrest of the driver for carjacking.

Deputy Cody Kerns spotted the broken taillight on a black Pontiac northbound on U.S. One at the 102 mm at 3:40 a.m. Saturday. When he pulled the car over, he recognized the driver from previous contacts as 34 year old Dennis Cooper of Key Largo. When he asked for a driver’s license, Cooper handed over a learner’s permit. A check on his name revealed a suspended license. The female passenger also had a suspended license. Cooper, who had two previous arrests for driving with a suspended license, was arrested.

Deputy Kerns looked into the car and could see a large amount of fresh blood on the driver’s door and on the center console. Neither Cooper nor the passenger were injured. He asked the passenger where the car had come from. She made a phone call, handing the phone to the deputy. On the phone was a man named Kevin who said he was with the owner of the car. He, in turn, put the car’s owner on the phone. The owner was named “Craig”. Craig said the car was his and he knew Cooper was driving it but didn’t know Cooper had a suspended license.

A short time later, Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from the Circle K store at the 99 mile marker from a man saying his nose was broken and his car had been taken by a man named “Cooper”. Deputy Annette Simo responded and found the owner of the Pontiac, “Craig”, identified as 38 year old Craig Vanness . He had blood all over him and had an apparent broken nose. He said when he was on the phone with Deputy Cory earlier, he was surrounded by a bunch of Cooper’s friends and couldn’t talk openly for fear of being hurt.

He told Deputy Simo he and Cooper were at Hibiscus Park and he let Cooper borrow his car. After Cooper brought it back, Cooper refused to give him his keys. He said when he tried to get the keys from Cooper and tried to get into his own car, Cooper punched him in the nose and took the car without his permission. He said it was his blood inside the car.

Cooper, who was already charged with driving with his license suspended, was further charged with carjacking and aggravated battery. He was booked into jail.