Sunday, Nov 23, 2014

St. Pete officers’ actions justified in shootings, chief says


Published:

The St. Petersburg Police Department has determined that most of the officers involved in two fatal shooting incidents were justified in their actions.

Two shooting review boards convened by Chief Charles Harmon investigated two shootings that took place in September and released their findings today.

The first incident took place Sept. 7, when officers confronted Lealann Cooley on the porch of his home at 3311 40th St. N. According to the panel’s findings, six officers went to the house to investigate reports of gunfire. As they approached the home, Cooley raised a rifle and pointed it at the officers. The officers fired their weapons, fatally wounding Cooley.

According to the findings, Cooley had been drinking all day and had made comments to his girlfriend that he intended to have a standoff with police and be killed.

Harmon determined Lt. Gregory Totz, 61, and Officers Michael Carter, 40, Michael Karayianes, 30, and David Kimes, 38, were justified in the use of deadly force. Two other officers, however, Christopher Turbee, 37, and John Phifer, 34, were not justified because they did not have a clear line of sight and were unable to see if Cooley was armed. Turbee and Phifer received employee notices.

The second incident took place Sept. 23 when Officer Damien Schmidt, 55, confronted Kenneth Robert Sprankle at Central Avenue and 4th Street North. According to the findings, Sprankle approached Schmidt wielding a large ax raised in a threatening manner.

Schmidt drew his firearm and gave multiple warnings, but Sprankle continued to advance towards him. Schmidt fired multiple times, fatally wounding Sprankle, according to the findings.

Harmon determined Schmidt’s use of deadly force was justified.

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