ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) –
UPDATE #1 (August 8, 2020, 9:46am): Suspect Identified
Detectives assigned to the Pinellas County Use of Deadly Force Investigative Task Force have notified the suspect’s next of kin. He is identified as 55-year-old Jeffrey Haarsma.
ORIGINAL INFORMATION (August, 7, 2020):
According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, detectives assigned to the Use of Deadly Force Task Force are investigating an officer-involved shooting in the City of St. Petersburg. The shooting occurred at last night at approximately 8:57 pm at the French Quarter Condos located at 4050 4th Street North in St. Petersburg, Florida.
According to investigators, St. Petersburg police officers were dispatched to 4050 4th Street North in reference to a neighbor dispute. The suspect had reportedly been giving the female neighbor a hard time and had taken some of her belongings during the day. While investigating, the suspect, a 55-year-old white male, exited the front door of his second floor residence.
Detectives say Officer Alison Savarese climbed the stairs to the second floor landing to speak with him. The suspect quickly walked towards Officer Savarese in an aggressive manner. When Officer Savarese attempted to detain the suspect, he shoved her backwards and a struggle ensued.
Investigators say the officer and the suspect went to the ground while fighting and when they stood up, the suspect grabbed the officer’s throat and squeezed. Officer Savarese could not breathe and began to notice the suspect was tugging on her belt.
Detectives say Officer Savarese, fearing for her life, fired two rounds at the suspect while she was being actively choked. According to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the suspect was approximately six feet tall and approximately 175 pounds. He does have a criminal history.
Sheriff Gualtieri stated, “…for him, and what they were investigating. It wasn’t worth his life.”
The suspect was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced deceased. Next of kin has not been notified.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office will conduct an investigation of the incident in accordance with a recently passed protocol within Pinellas County. The State Attorney’s Office is also conducting an independant and parallel investigation. Officer Savarese will be placed on routine administrative leave.
Sheriff Gualtieri remarked that Savarese was a bit shaken up after the incident and had visibly observable marks on her neck from being choked. Today marks Officer Savarese’s 4th year of employment with the St. Petersburg Police Department.
The investigation is ongoing and CW44 News At 10 will provide updates as more information becomes available.
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