Tampa Bay briefs
By Times staff reports
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 19, 2001
Briefs from around the Tampa Bay area.
Airport officer cleared in shooting of suspect
TAMPA -- A Tampa International Airport police officer has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing in last month's shooting of a suspected car thief.
Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober said Detective Todd Finley "believed his life was in danger" when he fired several shots at Denario Jones the morning of April 25. Jones was slightly injured.
Finley was in West Tampa investigating the theft of a car when he saw Jones, 22, drive by in the vehicle, TIA officials said. Finley pursued, and Jones rammed Finley's car several times before Finley fired five shots, officials said.
Jones was being held in lieu of $15,000 bail on charges of grand theft and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.
Authorities investigate 18-month-old's death
TAMPA -- Sheriff's officials were at a home in Lithia late Friday investigating the death of an 18-month-old boy.
Officials said the child was being given a bath about 3:20 p.m. at the home at 2138 Welcome Road when he stopped breathing. Sheriff's officials would not release the name of the child or the cause of death.
Pollution causes state to issue air warning
Air pollution in eastern Hillsborough County and Polk County got so bad Friday that the state Department of Environmental Protection issued an alert, warning people with respiratory problems to avoid the outdoors this weekend in the Lakeland area.
But the Tampa Bay area is doing comparatively well, said Bill Proses of the DEP's Tampa office.
Air monitors in Polk, near the Hillsborough County line, have recorded high levels of ozone, the key ingredient of smog. It can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and it especially tends to cause problems for children and the elderly, as well as asthma patients and others with breathing problems. Proses said that as of Friday, there had been no reports of health effects.
Coast Guard arrests sailors off Ecuador
TAMPA -- The U.S. Coast Guard has arrested another group of sailors off the coast of Ecuador and accused them of trying to smuggle more than 3,000 pounds of cocaine.
The four men, who face charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine possession, made their first appearance in a Jacksonville courtroom Friday.
They were picked up May 11 after a helicopter from the U.S. Navy guided missile frigate Halyburton spotted a speed boat that tried to flee. The men on the speed boat tried to jettison the cocaine, but 42 bales were recovered after the boat was stopped, a press release said.
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