CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Brad Starnes was recovering Tuesday at Carolinas Medical Center after being grabbed and dragged by a driver Tuesday afternoon on Sugar Creek Road.
Police said his injuries are not life-threatening.
Several of his fellow officers came to check on him -- a man they described as their friend who is professional and hard working.
The 35-year-old has been with CMPD for 14 years is currently on the department's motorcycle unit.
Longtime friend and fellow University of North Carolina-Charlotte graduate Raj West spoke to Eyewitness News on the phone Tuesday night.
"He's just a down-to-earth person who does whatever he can for you," West said.
Starnes is a loving husband to his wife, whom he recently married, West added.
He said Starnes was also an Army reservist who was deployed last year.
"He's a very tough individual," West said.
Starnes is recovering from road rash and what police say may be a broken leg.
Police said the incident started when a woman flagged down police in north Charlotte and said she'd been assaulted.
Starnes spotted the car the woman described; police said when he went to pull it over someone inside the car cursed at Starnes, then grabbed his arm and started driving.
Witnesses said Starnes was dragged a quarter-mile before somehow freeing himself.
West said Tuesday's incident is an example of the risks law enforcement take each day.
"I think people think law enforcement officers are robots," West said. "I can say unequivocally, Brad is one of the most wonderful, most compassionate people I've ever met in my life."
Friends said they're looking forward to Starnes' full recovery.
West said Starnes recently returned to CMPD after suffering a broken ankle during a skydiving trip.
Authorities said Chad Clay was the driver and charged him with attempted murder, felony-hit and-run and driving while license revoked, according to a CMPD news release.
Detectives charged Maurice Clay with attempted murder.
A passenger in the vehicle who was identified as Antoine Johnson was arrested for an unrelated warrant for misdemeanor assault. The suspects will be transferred to the custody of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office.
Starnes is expected to be released from the hospital late Tuesday evening.
Jessica Niilend witnessed the car dragging that officer through the street.
"You could see the police officer just hanging on," she said.
She said she saw the officer trying to get off of the car but the driver was holding onto his arm and wouldn't let go.
Niilend said the officer was finally able to get loose. She saw his boot and sock came off of his foot.
“It was not an accident. You could tell he did that on purpose," she said.
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