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Deputy cleared in shooting

The officer was "clearly justified" in returning fire, a prosecutor finds.

By COLLEEN JENKINS
Published August 13, 2003

While witness accounts of a May 30 shooting at a Citrus County home conflict, prosecutors say one thing is clear:

Larry Robbins, who lived at the home, fired the first shot, injuring Citrus County sheriff's Sgt. David DeCarlo.

DeCarlo's decision to return fire was "clearly justified," Chief Assistant State Attorney Richard D. Ridgway wrote in a memo to his boss, State Attorney Brad King, Tuesday evening.

"Accordingly, I recommend that no further action be taken as to this aspect of the matter," wrote Ridgway, who reviews cases involving use of police force in the 5th Judicial Circuit, which includes Citrus County.

His decision, supported by King in an accompanying letter to Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy, is based on a review of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement report released Friday to the public.

The report made no recommendations, but included more than 400 pages of witness interviews and details gathered during a two-month FDLE investigation of the shooting.

The scene that unfolded just before 6:30 a.m. May 30 sent shock waves throughout Citrus County.

DeCarlo, a well-known veteran of the Sheriff's Office, and a team of investigators arrived at 9705 N Cortlandt Drive in Citrus Springs to serve a search warrant based on a tip that drugs were being sold there.

But the seemingly routine task turned violent when Robbins, according to police, started shooting.

Robbins and DeCarlo both suffered bullet wounds and were hospitalized.

Witnesses who were inside told FDLE investigators they thought investigators might be robbers or gang members.

Several people said they never heard the authorities identify themselves as members of the Sheriff's Office.

In his letter, Ridgway acknowledged the discrepancies in some of the witness accounts. However, he said Robbins admitted to firing first in an interview after the shooting.

He has been charged with attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and possession of a firearm by a felon.

DeCarlo was released from Tampa General Hospital earlier this month.

No date has been set for his return to work.

- Colleen Jenkins can be reached at 352860-7303 or cjenkins@sptimes.com

[Last modified August 13, 2003, 01:32:38]


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