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Friday, Aug 29, 2014

St. Pete police rule officers' use of firearms justified


Published:

Boards convened by the St. Petersburg Police Department have ruled that three officers' use of firearms were deemed necessary and that another officer reacted inappropriately with a drunken suspect.

In the first instance, on April 28, Officer Christopher Dolch and Probationary Officer Nicholas Cardinal were sent to 2630 13th Ave. N., by a neighbor to check on the welfare of Pamela Kirk. The neighbor was concerned about Kirk's out-of-character behavior, such as asking her to take care of her pet and hugging her.

Dolch, 38, a sworn officer since December 2006, was familiar with Kirk and had Baker-Acted her before.

The officers spoke to Kirk through her front door, during which Kirk repeatedly cursed at them, ultimately stating that she was going to get her gun and make the police shoot her.

Dolch and the neighbor attempted to enter through the rear door with a key, but Kirk relocked the door from inside the house while yelling, "No." Dolch asked Kirk through the door if she really had a gun and she stated yes. As the two backed away from the door, Kirk appeared in the window with a silver handgun and pointed it in the direction of Dolch. Fearing for his life and the life of the neighbor, Dolch fired three times, inflicting fatal wounds on Kirk.

The review board ruled Dolch's actions were justified.

In another case, on March 10, Officers Devin Jones and Officer Curtis Wright went to 5411 4th Ave. N. after friends and relatives became concerned about Arthur Dixon Jr., who was intoxicated and had poured gasoline on the floor inside his residence and rolled in it while smoking a cigarette.

Other officers were called and a perimeter was established. After 45 minutes of negotiations, during which Dixon made repeated verbal threats to harm himself and police, he stepped out his back door armed with a large pair of scissors and headed toward Jones and Wright. Dixon made threats to harm the officers, ignoring the retreating officers' command to drop the scissors. The officers fired, fatally wounding Dixon.

The board ruled the officers' actions were justified.

In a third case, on April 13 Officer Christopher Goodwin was sent to 401 Fifth St. N., where he arrested Debra Leibrock for disorderly intoxication and trespass after warning. During the arrest, Goodwin pulling Leibrock from a busy roadway, injuring her. When they arrived at the Pinellas County Jail, Leibrock exited the police cruiser and sat down on the ground, so Goodwin then dragged Leibrock, by the back of her shirt, across the

floor and into the receiving area of the jail facility.

The board found Goodwin had violated department policy on use of force and city policy on conduct. Based upon his actions and a previous incident of misconduct, he was given an Employee Notice and a 32-hour work suspension.

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