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Driver facing felony charges in sidewalk hit-and-run of News 8 vehicle

Michael Sewell, 51, was allegedly involved in an altercation in Ocean Beach hours earlier.

SAN DIEGO — A man caught on videotape driving on a sidewalk and smashing into a News 8 vehicle in downtown San Diego is now behind bars, facing felony charges.

Just hours before Monday’s hit-and-run incident, witnesses said the same man got into an altercation in Ocean Beach but got away before police arrived on scene.

Video of the Ocean Beach incident was posted on Facebook, showing Michael Sewell, 51, arguing with a passerby.

Later in the day, Sewell ended up in a standoff with police at Union and W. Cedar streets downtown.

Police said he wouldn't come out of his car after evading arrest.  When officers fired pepper balls at Sewell’s vehicle, he allegedly took off, drove on a sidewalk, and smashed into a News 8 vehicle before escaping.

News 8 photojournalist Bruce Patch was on scene and caught it all on videotape.

“The next thing I know he's coming down the sidewalk and I grabbed my camera and I went backwards.  He ended up plowing through right past us and took off, and people just scattered,” said Patch.

The collision took out the rear bumper of the News 8 vehicle and nearly took out people on the sidewalk, as well.

“I tell you what, the people who were standing right here, if they didn't move quicker, they'd be dead,” Patch said.

Earlier Monday morning, Sewell got into a scuffle in Ocean Beach, according to witnesses, who said his pit bull attacked a smaller dog along Ladera Street.

“He pushed the owner of the small dog and that person fell down. And then, another person came and tackled him for pushing that person down. And, I joined in to restrain the guy because he was definitely becoming aggressive,” said Navy veteran Clint Kent, who recorded video of Sewell and his license plate after the scuffle.

Kent said police were called but officers did not arrive in time.

“When he sped off and almost hit a gentleman with a giant longboard crossing the street, then we knew he needed to be stopped,” said Kent.

As of Thursday, Sewell was in custody at San Diego Central Jail downtown, facing felony charges of evading arrest and assault with a deadly weapon. He is also facing misdemeanor counts of hit and run, and resisting arrest.

At the time of the hit and run, records show, Sewell was driving a 2005 Toyota sedan registered in his name with license plates attached to the vehicle.

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