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SJ officer hurt in 'violent struggle' with hitchhiker

A Gloucester Township, Camden County, police officer was injured while chasing a hitchhiker who tossed heroin packets as he fled and eventually turned to fight off arrest, according to authorities.

Michael L. Thomas, 58, of Atlantic City, was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, and possession of a controlled dangerous substance after the incident that began 5:17 p.m. Thursday.

At that time, police were notified of a man hitchhiking on Sicklerville Road near Villari's Lakeside Inn.  An officer stopped Thomas and discovered there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest over a traffic offense.

The officer attempted to arrest Thomas, who said "he was not going back to jail" and then fled, according to police. The officer chased Thomas, who police said also began discarding packets of heroin along the way.

Eventually, the officer caught Thomas. Police said he resisted arrest and engaged in "a violent struggle" with the officer.

The officer injured his hand. Other police arrived on the scene to help subdue and arrest Thomas. The officer was treated at a nearby hospital and released. He might need further medical evaluation, police said.

Thomas was also taken to a local hospital. He was then taken to Camden County Jail in lieu of $35,00 bail. Police did not specify why Thomas had to be treated at the hospital.