Chief: Bradenton officer's fatal shooting of suspect appears justified (with recording of 911 call)

rdymond@bradenton.comJune 10, 2013 

BRADENTON -- A Bradenton Police Department officer appeared to have just cause to fire his weapon at a kidnapping suspect who charged at him Saturday, according to Bradenton's police chief.

Chief Michael Radzilowski on Monday said that a full investigation is under way by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement because the shooting claimed the suspect's life.

"From what I have seen, it looks to be justified," Radzilowski said. "The preliminary reports we received indicate the suspect was the aggressor, had a metal pole and charged the officer. But we will find out exactly what happened."

About a year and a half ago, Radzilowski signed an agreement with FDLE that any time a Bradenton Police Department officer had a fatal or serious shooting the case would be completely handled by FDLE.

This is the first such case, Radzilowski said.

"My belief is that the community will have more confidence if an outside agency handles the investigation when an officer is involved in a shooting that results in death," Radzilowski said. "The community can have a better understanding and there will be no appearance of conflict of interest."

Radzilowski said he asked FDLE to release details about the shooting to the public, including the name of the officer and the deceased. FDLE is currently withholding that information.

"FDLE will not release additional information as it relates to the Bradenton Police Department officer involved shooting investigation. FDLE is in the beginning of its investigation and is concerned that additional information released at this time, could jeopardize the integrity of the case," Gretl Plessinger, an FDLE spokeswoman, said Monday.

Officers responded to a possible kidnapping at 2:14 p.m. Saturday in the 300 block of 20th Street East.

The suspect appears to have been beating his girlfriend, who was from North Carolina, Radzilowski said.

When the suspect allowed the victim to go to the porch for some fresh air, she sent a text message to a family member in North Carolina, who then called police.

Police arrived at the address and the boyfriend fled, Radzilowski said.

The chase led to a back yard three blocks away, on the corner of Manatee Avenue and 19th Street East.

It was there that the officer fired one shot in the suspect's chest, killing him, Radzilowski said.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard procedure, Radzilowski said.

Radzilowski said the officer is taking the death hard.

"I talked to him and he is experiencing something the vast majority of police officers will never experience," Radzilowski said. "We will have him go through professional counseling to make sure he is handling it. He is upset. No one wants to take a life."

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