Crime

Michael Jerome Taylor, 17, fatally shot after attempting to hit officers and bystanders

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A teenager was shot and killed after attempting run over police and bystanders in a stolen vehicle speeding through a crowd of around 200 people in Florida early Wednesday morning in what police described as a “chaotic scene.”

The suspect, 17, had allegedly stolen a black Camaro in Winter Haven and tried to flee when he saw officers approaching the vehicle, Tampa’s WFLA-TV reported.

Police in Lakeland, about 35 miles east of Tampa, then responded to a call at 2:21 a.m. about a large crowd gathering outside a restaurant, the report said. As the Camaro accelerated directly toward Lakeland Officer Markais Neal, 28, he fired at the vehicle, police said, according to the station.

Surveillance Footage / Officer-involved Shooting / Salem's

At approximately 2:21 a.m. this morning, Lakeland police officers responded to Salem’s at the corner of North Florida Avenue and Memorial Boulevard for a large crowd that had congregated after a local club closed for the night. When the officers arrived, they dispersed part of the crowd. Over 100 people remained so the officers continued to monitor the situation. While still on scene, at approximately 2:48 a.m., officers recognized a Camaro that had been reported stolen. It has since been confirmed that the Camaro was in fact stolen. Officers approached the Camaro in order to investigate the felony of Grand Theft Auto. As they did, the driver of the Camaro violently accelerated forward, ignoring multiple commands to stop, and attempted to run over an officer who had to jump in between two parked vehicles to avoid being hit. Officers were forced to open fire. The driver struck multiple vehicles in his violent attempt to flee apprehension. The vehicle then briefly stopped and officers were able to escort a female passenger to safety who informed officers that the driver had a firearm in the vehicle. The driver then again accelerated, proceeding with such force that he propelled a car into the concrete building of the Bike Barn, causing a hole in the wall. The driver was identified as Michael Jerome Taylor, Jr. The entire incident lasted approximately 42 seconds. It was later learned that the offender was on felony probation as a violent offender of special concern under the anti-murder act for robbery with a weapon, burglary while armed, fleeing and eluding with a high-speed chase, burglary conveyance and grand theft auto. It was also confirmed that there was a loaded firearm in the Camaro that had previously been reported stolen. As we always strive to ensure transparency, below you will find a video of the incident. Caution, the video may be disturbing to some people. Please use discretion in determining whether to view or allow others to view the video.

Posted by LakelandPD on Wednesday, December 26, 2018

“He aggressively began to speed through the parking lot, driving at one of our officers, placing them in fear for their life, along with all the other patrons that began to scatter,” Lakeland police Chief Larry Giddens told WFLA.

Two additional officers, Joseph Novis, 25, and Raj Patel, 23, also fired at the car in an attempt to stop it, the station reported.

“The driver ignored that, continued to drive through the parking lot at a high rate of speed striking several vehicles in the parking lot, struck a light pole, and he ended up ramming into a parked vehicle and knocking it into a bike barn,” Giddens said. “He hit that car with such force that it knocked that vehicle through a block wall, which caused the airbag to deploy.”

Police released surveillance video that shows the officers opening fire on the driver, the report said. He was given first aid then transported to a Lakeland hospital where he died.

It was unclear how many times the suspect was shot or how many rounds the officer fired, the North West Florida Daily News reported, citing a release.

The teen had four previous felony arrests, including for burglary and grand theft auto, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

A female passenger was in the stolen vehicle but was able to jump out of the car before it crashed, WFLA reported. She was taken into custody and later told police there may have been a gun inside the Camaro, after which officials found the weapon under the car’s floorboard, the station reported.

All three officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave for a minimum of three days following the police department’s officer-involved shooting policy, the reports said.

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