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Man gets 40 years for wounding Tampa police officer during 2005 shoot-out

TAMPA — A man was sentenced Friday to 40 years in prison for wounding a police officer during a 2005 shoot-out.

A Hillsborough County jury convicted Eugene Jermaine Betts this week of attempted second-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, aggravated battery with a firearm and two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter.

Betts, 26, shot a Tampa officer in the ankle when police tried to arrest him on a car theft warrant.

In July 2005, St. Petersburg police detectives asked Tampa officers to pick up Betts. They also wanted to talk to Betts about the shooting death of a 20-year-old victim who had been mysteriously dropped off at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg.

When Tampa officers confronted Betts at the Windermere Apartments in Riverview, he fired a .38-caliber pistol as he ran from the scene. One bullet hit Sgt. Gene Strickland in the ankle. He was treated at a hospital and released within a few hours.

Authorities launched a two-day search for Betts that involved police, sheriff's deputies and the U.S. Marshals Service. He later turned himself in at the Orient Road Jail.

State records show that Betts' criminal history dates back to his teenage years and includes convictions in Hillsborough for cocaine possession, firearm possession and violently resisting an officer.

Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Man gets 40 years for wounding Tampa police officer during 2005 shoot-out 06/12/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 12, 2009 8:08pm]

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