A cemetery owner has sued a Florida Highway Patrol trooper who shot him while looking for a stolen motorcycle he believed was on the graveyard's grounds.
Clifford F. Work believes Trooper Daniel Cole used excessive force on Sept. 10, 2012, when he drove onto Work's property without a warrant. Cole then shot Work in the leg after they came face to face a little before dawn at Royal Palm North Cemetery, 6200 Gandy Blvd.
Cole told investigators he fired because Work pointed a gun at him. Work said he was startled from sleep by the trooper's trespassing and grabbed his gun. He said when he opened the door to a shed, Cole fired 15 shots from a rifle. Work never fired his gun.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and FHP cleared Cole of wrongdoing. Cole has been investigated twice before — once for shooting a man in a car and another time for using a Taser on a handcuffed woman who was running from him. The man in the car turned out to be a Christian minister who was unarmed and was driving erratically after getting lost. He said he was trying to show the trooper his wallet when he was shot. The handcuffed woman fell, hit her head and suffered debilitating brain damage. She later died.
Cole was cleared in both cases.
Work's lawsuit, filed Oct. 25 in Pinellas County, alleges illegal search and seizure, excessive force, battery, gross negligence and loss of marital consortium. He is seeking damages that exceed $15,000.