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St. Petersburg carjacking suspect killed in shootout with police

By Zachary T. Sampson
SCOTT KEELER | Times St. Petersburg Police Chief Tony Holloway, left, talks about the killing of a man driving a pickup truck stolen during a carjacking, during a news conference at police headquarters on October 25, 2017.

By Zachary T. Sampson and Samantha Putterman

ST. PETERSBURG — Police officers shot and killed a man who they say fired a semiautomatic handgun at them after bailing from a stolen truck early Wednesday.

Timothy Earl Jackson, 33, died at a local hospital, according to police. Investigators believe he was one of two men who took a white Toyota pickup in an armed carjacking Monday.

The officers involved, Matthew Laliberte and Andre Sousa, were not injured. Both have been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation of the shooting, police said.

One of the officers spotted Jackson in the pickup about 12:50 a.m. outside Choice Food Store at 3401 Fifth Ave. S, investigators said. Police did not identify which officer was first involved Wednesday.

That officer called for backup and followed the truck, which had a flat tire, but did not chase, according to St. Petersburg police Chief Tony Holloway.

The pickup pulled into a narrow alley behind 2940 Freemont Ter. S, police said. Two cruisers turned in behind it.

Jackson got out of the truck and fired at least two shots, Holloway said. The bullets struck the bumper and hood of one cruiser.

Sousa and Laliberte shot back and hit Jackson, who later died at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.

Holloway said it was unclear early Wednesday how many rounds were fired.

Jackson had a long criminal record and was released from state prison in August after serving four years for credit card fraud. He previously had served time for robbery.

On Wednesday, he was armed with a black semiautomatic handgun, the same type of weapon used in the carjacking, police said. The pickup was stolen about 8:45 p.m. Monday. The victim told police that two men blocked him in and pointed a gun at him in the 4800 block of 20th Avenue S.

Laliberte has been with St. Petersburg police for a decade and was involved in another fatal shooting, in October 2013. He and three other officers shot at 31-year-old Jason Michael Kerr, who fired at them after they responded to reports of a man waving a gun in a parking lot, according to police. The officers were cleared in the case.

In 2010, he was suspended for three days for making "inappropriate racial comments" about a Hispanic officer at police headquarters. In recent years, Lali­berte has taken a leadership role at the department and served as a field training officer, according to his latest performance evaluation. He resuscitated a man who was not breathing after being stabbed in the chest in 2015.

Sousa joined the department three years ago. A performance evaluation in June said he "is an aggressive officer who routinely performs self-initiated activity in high crime areas." He had "several use-of-force incidents," but all fell within police guidelines, according to the evaluation.

People who knew Jackson said he was trying to get his life on track. Lavon Simmons, 35, said he was dating her sister, Dawntavia Simmons, and lived at 2970 Fremont Ter. S. He was hoping to get certified to drive commercial trucks at Pinellas Technical College, she said.

Early Wednesday, Lavon Simmons said, she was at the house when two men picked up Jackson in the white truck. She did not recall seeing him with a gun before he walked out the door.

"It wasn’t even 10 minutes later we heard the gunshots," Simmons said.

"I heard two regular gunshots," said Donnishae King, 18, Dawntavia Simmons’ daughter. Almost immediately after, she said, she heard several more shots that she believes came from police.

Since his release from prison, King said, Jackson was generous with her mother and siblings. He gave her free haircuts. She thought he was a "good man."

"He was paying bills," King said. "He was feeding us."

After hearing the shots, the women ran out of the house and around to the alley. They saw police cruisers filling the neighborhood. Officers were tending to a man on the ground, King said, pumping his chest, trying to keep him alive. The man wore the same clothes as Jackson.

The truck was still in the alley after dawn Wednesday as detectives huddled nearby. Children rode their bikes around police tape and walked to the bus stop for school.

Neighbors drank cans of beer on their lawns, saying they had slept right through the mayhem.

Times news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Zachary T. Sampson at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804. Follow @ZackSampson.