Florida Man Arrested After Trying to Challenge Police Officer to Car Race

A 20-year-old Florida man who was arrested last Friday after attempting to race a police officer on a highway told authorities that he was "just trying to go fast."

Connor Michael Proleika, of Tampa, was detained by a Clearwater Police officer shortly after 2 a.m. on November 22 and is facing a charge of racing on highways. The suspect violated his probation linked to charges in Hillsborough County, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Proleika told authorities he had not been aware the other driver was a police officer, according to an arrest affidavit published by the Pinellas County Clerk.

The incident took place on Courtney Campbell Causeway, which is a 9.5 mile stretch of road that runs between Tampa and Clearwater.

Police did not say if the Clearwater officer had been driving a patrol car or an unmarked vehicle. Details of the suspect's car were also unreleased.

The arrest report said: "[Proleika] was observed driving eastbound on the Courtney Campbell Causeway trying to bait this officer to race him.

"The defendant then revved his engine and took off, reaching speeds of 124 miles per hour (mph) with wanton disregard for other motorists. This officer made contact with [Proleika] and was advised by the defendant that he was just trying to go fast and didn't know I was a police officer."

The arrest was verified by a charge sheet published by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, which confirmed that the suspect had been accused of violating probation of two earlier felony charges: Grand theft and possession of a controlled substance. New bond was set at $250.

In Florida, racing on highways is a first degree misdemeanor which carries penalties of up to one year in jail, according to the criminal defense law firm Hussein & Webber, PL. "For a first offense, there is a minimum $500 fine and maximum fine of up to $1,000," the office says online.

According to the clerk, Proleika was appointed a public defender on November 22 and entered a plea of not guilty. The speed limit on the highway is 55 mph, Fox 13 reported.

Connor Michael Proleika
Arrest mugshot: Connor Michael Proleika, 20, was detained by a Clearwater Police officer shortly after 2 a.m. on November 22 and is now facing a charge of racing on highways. Pinellas County Jail

In September last year, Clearwater police told ABC Action News that a 29-year-old man named Nathaniel Varnadore had died after crashing his motorcycle into a Honda Civic on the Courtney Campbell Causeway. He was going at "triple-digit speeds," allegedly over 100 mph, police said. Earlier in the month, authorities arrested three men for racing along the same strip of road.

In early December last year, four drivers were detained for speeding on the public highway, WFLA reported. Two of the suspects, both 19-years-old, had allegedly reached more than 90 mph.