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Board: Shooting by officer justified

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 31, 2001

CLEARWATER -- A shooting review board has ruled that a Clearwater police officer acted within the scope of department guidelines when he fired at a man he thought was trying to hit him with a car.

Officer Tom Stein, 40, shot at a car Oct. 13 while working an off-duty job at Dillard's department store at Countryside Mall. Stein, a 15-year department veteran, confronted a suspect inside the store after learning someone was stealing leather jackets.

The suspect ran into the parking lot, jumped into a white car and drove toward a pursuing Stein. Stein fired three shots from his department-issued .40-caliber weapon at the car. The suspect drove away.

Stein was placed on routine administrative leave after the shooting. A review board ruled Tuesday that Stein acted in compliance with the department's policies and procedures when he fired at the oncoming car.

The board ruled Stein was "reasonably in fear of imminent death or serious injury" when he fired at the car. Several civilian witnesses told investigators that Stein was in danger when the car came toward him.

Stein returned to duty Tuesday.

Police on Oct. 18 arrested Carlton Lamar Grooms, 35, and charged him with trying to run down Stein. Grooms had a leg injury when arrested, but he declined medical treatment and refused to tell police if he received the injury during the shooting.

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