VENICE, Fla. (WWSB) - A report has concluded that the Venice Police officer who fired his service weapon while taking a 24-year-old man into custody did not do anything wrong.
The incident dates back to November 9. Around 5:15am, the officer saw a vehicle going 67mph in a 35mph zone while heading south on Tamiami Trail. The vehicle turned onto West Milan Avenue and the officer attempted to make a traffic stop. That’s when police say the driver, 24-year-old Kevin Hamilton of Bradenton, fled.
Police say Hamilton drove through multiple stop signs and into oncoming traffic lanes while driving at a high rate of speed, refusing to stop. Eventually, Hamilton stopped his car in the driveway of a home on the 400 block of Menedez Street.
Once there, police say Hamilton fled on foot, hiding behind a lattice fence. The officer got out of his vehicle and searched for the suspect, drawing his firearm as a precaution.
Police say Hamilton charged through the fence, pushing into the officer, who lowered his weapon and in the process, fired a round. Police say the officer tried to restrain Hamilton, but Hamilton fled towards his vehicle and, though they scuffled in the driveway for more than three minutes, Hamilton managed to break free and climb over a wall.
A K9 officer helped track Hamilton to an apartment on the 400 block of South Armada Road, where he was taken into custody. Police say Hamilton was driving on a revoked license. He was charged with battery on an officer, fleeing police, resisting an officer with violence, and driving on a suspended license.
Hamilton was unhurt during the arrest and the officer suffered some minor cuts and bruises. The bullet from the officer’s weapon went through the sliding glass door of a home on Menedez Street and into the side of a mattress where the resident was sleeping. The resident was also unhurt.
As is routine whenever a service weapon is fired, police conducted a review of the incident, including reviewing incident reports, written and recorded statements, video from the patrol car, dispatch radio transmission, crime scene documentation such as evidence photos and interviews with witnesses.
Photos from the scene show a heavily damaged lattice fence, where the officer says Hamilton charged through it. The resident of the home the bullet struck reported hearing “put your hands up” and then a scuffle where the “noise level went way up, very loud” before hearing a bang when the shot was fired, according to the report, which is consistent with what the officer says took place. The bullet ricocheted off the concrete patio, entering the sliding glass door inches above the ground, which the report says indicates the officer was lowering his weapon when the discharge took place as he described.
The review found the unintentional shooting was justified and due to the actions of Hamilton, who reportedly told police he was unaware the weapon had gone off. The review noted that the officer displaying his weapon was appropriate, given the circumstances, and that he re-holstered his weapon and continued to try to take Hamilton into custody after being attacked. The officer also immediately reported the incident to his supervisor and completed all required documentation.
The review concluded no policy or law was violated and was accordingly closed.