Crime

Suspected drugs found on man shot to death by sheriff's deputy in Bradenton during struggle

Orange brackets on a supermarket parking lot mark the spot where a deputy fatally shot a 33-year-old man during a confrontation early Thursday. 
 JAMES A. JONES JR./Bradenton Herald
Orange brackets on a supermarket parking lot mark the spot where a deputy fatally shot a 33-year-old man during a confrontation early Thursday. JAMES A. JONES JR./Bradenton Herald

MANATEE -- A Manatee County sheriff's deputy early Thursday shot and killed a man, after he pulled a gun on deputies during a struggle, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

The shooting happened in the parking lot of the Winn Dixie store located at the corner of 53rd Avenue East and Ninth Street East, according to a news release.

After the shooting, investigators found suspected drugs on the man at the hospital, according to the sheriff's office.

Court records show that the dead man, Randy Allen Smith, 34, was out of jail on bond after he was arrested June 4 on a drug possession charge.

About midnight, a deputy reported there was a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot, and waited for a second deputy before approaching the vehicle. Dave Bristow, spokesman for the sheriff's office, said the vehicle was suspicious because it was parked in a side parking lot when all surrounding businesses were closed.

"It shouldn't have been there," Bristow said.

When backup arrived, the two deputies approached the vehicle, with the original deputy going to the passenger side and the backup deputy on the driver's side. The original deputy started talking to Smith on the passenger's side and eventually told him to get out of the vehicle, according to Bristow. He complied and got out of the vehicle, and the second deputy started coming around to assist.

"They asked him to come out of the car with his hands up, and he wasn't cooperating with that," Bristow said.

The first deputy was trying to handcuff Smith, who wasn't following repeated commands to show his hands. The deputy then took out his Taser and deployed it on Smith but missed.

The second deputy then tried to assist in the ensuing struggle and deployed his Taser, but hit Smith's dreadlocks, which investigators believe deflected most of the shock.

"He only went down for a short time, like a really short time," Bristow said.

Smith then reportedly punched the second deputy in the face, who fell down and hit his head on the pavement.

"So he's woozy, and he thinks he sees a gun. Then one of the deputies, we're not sure which one at this point, started saying, 'Gun, a gun, a gun,'" Bristow said. "And that's when our guy shot him (Smith)."

Bristow said though it's possible Smith had the handgun on his person when he was shot, investigators believe Smith had the gun in his hand, and that the placement of the gun at the scene is consistent with that. The deputy shot Smith multiple times.

Smith was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital, where he died before 1 a.m., Bristow said.

A woman who was in the driver's seat of the car was interviewed and is being cooperative, according to the sheriff's office. Bristow said she is not being charged in connection with the incident.

Bristow said suspected heroin and cocaine were found on Smith during the investigation. Bristow said he did not know the amount of drugs found, but that it appeared to be packaged for sale.

The two deputies, whose names were not released, have been placed on routine leave while the shooting is investigated by the sheriff's office and the state attorney's office. Investigators were not able to interview one of the involved deputies on Thursday and the sheriff's office will release the deputies' names after that interview.

"We're going to give them a little time after the traumatizing situation to process this," Bristow said.

Bristow said they checked nearby business surveillance cameras but none had captured the incident due to its location on the side of the building. There was not a dash cam on either patrol vehicle.

Smith was out on bond for charges of possession of a controlled substance. He was originally arrested on June 4, bonded out, was arrested again for violation of pretrial release on June 30 and then bonded out again on Sept. 1.

Smith has been previously convicted of resisting an officer without violence, cocaine possession, marijuana possession and possession of a firearm by a felon. He has also been charged with aggravated assault.

Another officer-involved shooting occurred in Bradenton on Nov. 9. A Bradenton police officer arrived in the 2400 block of 13th Street West for a call of domestic violence and Travis Hardy, 31, drove his car into the officer while trying to flee, according to reports. The officer shot Hardy, who was injured but not killed. Hardy was released from the Manatee County jail on Nov. 12 on $65,000 bond.

The last deputy-involved shooting in Manatee was on Aug. 28, 2014, when Sgt. Brady McCabe, 32, fatally shot Terry M. Sellars Jr. when he charged at deputies with a samurai sword. McCabe was cleared of any wrongdoing in November 2014, and he returned to duty.

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