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A 21-year-old sailor assigned to the USS Essex was turned over to Japanese police Tuesday afternoon after being indicted on an auto theft charge, Navy and Japanese officials said Tuesday.

Seaman Apprentice Brandon R. Jackson is accused of being the driver in a Dec. 7 hit-and-run that slightly injured a Japanese police officer, Sasebo Naval Base spokesman Charles Howard said.

Jackson is accused of stealing a van. He was spotted driving the vehicle by a Japanese police officer who stopped him and opened the passenger door to question him, according to police reports.

The sailor allegedly sped away, dragging the officer about 30 feet before crashing through a base gate, police said. The van was later abandoned in a family housing area.

The officer suffered minor bruises and cuts, police reported.

"The Navy has fully cooperated with Japanese authorities since this incident occurred," Howard said.

"We expect high standards of conduct from every sailor and civilian who reports for duty in Sasebo. ... If they break Japanese laws they are subject to our host nation’s legal system."

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