Monday, October 1, 2012

Tampa police shoot, wound man after traffic stop leads to 3-mile chase

Tampa police shoot, wound man after traffic stop leads to 3-mile chase

Tampa Police say they were forced to shoot a suspect overnight after he led them on a 3-mile chase across Tampa.

Investigators say it started with a traffic stop for an expired tag at Hillsborough and Armenia avenues.

The man behind the wheel, 25-year-old Edward Thomas, sped away from the officer.

Investigators say that after Thomas hit a street sign in the 6900 block of N Coolidge Avenue, he jumped out of the car and ran into a wooded area.

A police helicopter and canines tracked Thomas, whom police say eventually came out of the woods.

Tampa police spokesperson Andrea Davis said Thomas refused to show his hands when officers demanded to see them.

"Officers asked him to raise his hands so they could see his hands," she said. "He was in a crouched position and didn't show his hands. The officers were in fear for their lives."

A criminal background check shows Thomas was out on a supervised release on a second-degree murder charge out of Plant City. His criminal record dates to 2004, with several arrests for battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence.

At least one man who lives in the 6900 block of Coolidge Avenue witnessed the police shooting overnight.

Jesus Gort spoke with Bay News 9 and said he told his family to stay in the house, just before police opened fire.

"I just told my family to stay down because I didn't know what was going to happen," he said.

Thomas was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital and was treated overnight for a single gunshot wound.

Thomas’ mother, Rosetta Thomas, said her son was turning his life around because he didn't want to return to jail.

“And he told me this over and over, ‘Mom, I don't want to go back to prison. I'm here, I'm going to stay here. I'm going to do what I have to do,’” she said.

Police believe that mindset is what led to the crash and the officer-involved shooting.

Once Thomas leaves the hospital, he will be transferred to the Hillsborough County Jail.

The officer who opened fire will be put on paid administrative leave, a standard procedure when an officer discharges their firearm.

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