A five-year-old girl has died after being thrown off a bridge in Florida, by a man believed to be her father.

John Jonchuck, 25, faces charges of first-degree murder charge over the death of his daughter, Phoebe Jonchuck.

The incident occurred after a St Petersburg police officer pursued a speeding vehicle that passed him after midnight on Thursday. (8 January)

I've been doing this job for 29 years and I don't even know what was going through this guy's mind.
- Police Chief Tony Holloway

Jonchuck, the driver of the Chrysler PT Cruiser was stopped by the Dick Misener Bridge. He got out of the car and reportedly mumbled something inaudible to the officer before lifting the girl out of the passenger seat of the car.

Pressing her head towards his chest, he then tossed her over the rail into the Tampa Bay water more than 60ft (18 metres) below.

The officer climbed over the bridge and attempted to save the child, during which time the suspect sped off. Rescue crews pulled her out of the water and tried to resuscitate her, however she died in hospital.

Jonchuck was apprehended after police used spiked strips to disable his car.

"I've been doing this job for 29 years and I don't even know what was going through this guy's mind," said Police Chief Tony Holloway.

Jonchuck had earlier been discussing custody of his daughter with his attorney, Genevieve Torres. Torres said he was acting strangely and she reported odd statements he had made to police.

Jonchuck was later interviewed by a deputy police officer as he picked up his daughter from daycare and said that he felt happy and healthy and did not want to harm himself or anyone else.

According to police documents: "She (Phoebe) was smiling and appeared healthy, properly clothed and happy."

Phoebe's mother, Michelle Kerr, told the AP news agency that she last saw her daughter on Christmas Eve. She said her daughter loved her father.

"I always saw him as a good dad," Ms Kerr said. "She would always say, 'I love you daddy.' She loved her dad."

Jonchuck has a history of domestic battery charges against Ms Kerr, according to police reports.

He also faces charges of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle on a law enforcement officer and aggravated fleeing and eluding police.