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Man narrowly misses being hit by cars after falling in the middle of NW 23rd Avenue while running from police

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Johnny Ray Cothern, 35, was arrested early this morning after a Wawa employee reported that he was trespassing, then he allegedly gave a false name to officers and ran through traffic to escape arrest, falling in the middle of NW 23rd Avenue before being caught.

At about 11 p.m. last night, Gainesville Police Department officers responded to a call about a trespasser at the Wawa at 2305 NW 13th Street. When the officer arrived, they made contact with a man who provided the name of Johnny R Cothaun, but a records check found nobody with that name and the date of birth provided. Officers asked the man again for his name and reminded him that providing a false name to law enforcement is a crime. The man reportedly provided the same name a second time. The officer reported that there was a wallet in front of the man and that he said it wasn’t his, but in a later search after the arrest, the wallet was found to belong to the man and contained a Florida ID with his correct name, Johnny Ray Cothern.

While an officer was doing another records check, a second officer yelled, and the first officer saw Cothern running to the south, although he had reportedly been told he was being detained and was not free to leave. The second officer ran after Cothern across NW 23rd Avenue into traffic; the first officer reported that Cothern and the second officer were almost struck twice by cars traveling along NW 23rd Avenue. Cothern also reportedly tripped and fell in the middle of NW 23rd Avenue, with cars continuing to pass.

Cothern and the second officer made it to the other side of NW 23rd Avenue, where Cothern reportedly fell on the sidewalk, and the officers were able to gain control of him. However, Cothern allegedly had his arms and hands underneath his body and resisted being handcuffed.

Once they had his correct identification, officers found that he had a felony warrant out of Marion County for violation of probation for possession of dangerous drugs and misdemeanor DUI. That warrant has no bond.

Cothern has been charged with giving a false name to law enforcement and resisting arrest without violence. He had five felony convictions as of his last Alachua County arrest in 2019; a sworn complaint accusing him of burglary of an occupied residence was filed in September of 2022 after he allegedly kicked a door in and threatened the occupants, but the charges were dropped.

Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

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