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Deputy kills woman who wielded knife

He "kept asking her to put the knife down, ordering her, ordering her. Finally, he shot and killed her,'' a sheriff's official says.


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 2, 2000

TAMPA -- A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy shot and killed a 34-year-old woman Wednesday afternoon when she threatened him with a knife, authorities said.

About 12:30 p.m., dispatchers received an anonymous 911 call about a disturbance involving two women who were arguing in the street, said Sheriff Cal Henderson, who responded to the scene about a half-mile northeast of the University of South Florida.

He said the shooting happened this way:

Two deputies in separate cars responded to 2103 Autumn Chase Court where two women were reported fighting in the street. The deputies each went to talk to one of the women, when one of them brandished a large knife and threatened Deputy Chris Freeman with it.

"She backed him up 20 to 25 yards," Henderson said. "She continued to approach, and she raised the knife and said she was going to stab him."

Henderson said Freeman, 30 years old and an eight-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, backed away from the woman and retreated into the driveway of a nearby home before firing one shot into her chest.

Sheriff's spokesman Rod Reder said Freeman "kept asking her to put the knife down, ordering her, ordering her. Finally, he shot and killed her."

The second deputy's actions during the time of the confrontation will be one subject of the investigation, Reder said.

Freeman, who was not injured, was taken to University Community Hospital because "his blood pressure shot up. He was shook up," Henderson said.

Officials did not release the dead woman's name pending notification of relatives, but a neighbor identified her as Dawn Allen. Officials said the woman who was shot had lived at Allen's address.

Kelly Taylor, 17, who lives across the street from Allen, said Allen seemed to have snapped.

"He was telling her to put down the knife, and she wasn't listening," Taylor said. "So he pulled out his gun and said, "Put down the knife.' He got backed up to the point where he couldn't go anywhere."

Taylor said she heard Allen say, "What are you going to do, shoot me? Go ahead, shoot me."

Freeman did, firing a single round from his 9mm handgun into Allen's chest. She dropped to the driveway of 2042 Gregory Drive.

Clara Torres, 20, lives several doors from where Allen was killed and came outside when she heard the shot.

"The cop was over her crying, sobbing," Torres said. "It was self-defense, but I can imagine it was emotional for him. She died slowly."

Torres said Allen was smaller than the deputy, and she questioned whether deadly force was necessary. State records list Allen as 5-foot-6, 125 pounds.

"She was a female, and he was a big guy," Torres said. "He should have tried to take control of the situation. He could have shot her in the leg or the arm. And now the poor girl's dead."

Reder said Freeman has been placed on administrative leave, routine when deputies are involved in any kind of shooting. The sheriff's homicide unit and the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office will investigate the shooting. No less than a dozen sheriff's vehicles responded to the shooting. Crime technicians and assistant prosecutors were working the scene, where the victim's body still lay covered by a white sheet early Wednesday evening.

Freeman's personnel file includes above-average evaluations and letters of recommendation. An evaluation dated June 1998 said, "Dep. Freeman makes sound decisions and requires very little direct supervision."

Freeman is a member of the sheriff's dive team. One evaluation said, "Dep. Freeman is an aggressive deputy who does not hesitate to volunteer for calls."

State records show Allen was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer without violence in 1993. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years' probation, according to the records provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

In 1996 she faced charges of passing a forged prescription and was sentenced to one year of probation, records show.

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