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Newly released recordings reveal frantic scramble to save Cpl. Mike Roberts

The site where Cpl. Mike Roberts was shot and killed Aug. 19.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

The site where Cpl. Mike Roberts was shot and killed Aug. 19.

TAMPA — In Cpl. Mike Roberts' final minutes of life, his fellow police officers worked frantically to save him.

Video and audio recordings released Monday from six Tampa police cars captured the ultimately futile efforts of officers who rushed to a Sulphur Springs street corner on Aug. 19 to help their gunned down colleague.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Anthony Black ruled last week that journalists had a right to see the videos. But he ordered them to be viewed at the clerk's office and not reproduced in any way, a compromise struck to preserve the right of the man accused of killing Roberts to a fair trial and to protect the corporal's family from undue harm.

The video images revealed part of the grim story.

The voices told the rest.

• • •

Roberts, 38, alerted dispatchers at 9:58 p.m. that he had stopped to question a man pushing a full shopping cart along N Nebraska Avenue near E Arctic Street.

Authorities say that man, Humberto Delgado, knocked Roberts to the ground, beat him and fired a single shot at close range into the officer's shoulder.

Officer Otis Calhoun arrived at the scene at 10:03 p.m. Roberts lay motionless on his back, moaning. The shooter was gone.

"Oh geez," Calhoun said, running to Roberts' side. "Hold on, hold on, hold on."

Another police car arrived. Then another.

"I can't see where he's shot."

"I think it's his arm."

"We've got a police officer down."

At 10:06 p.m., Officer Vincent Gericitano started CPR.

"Get a mask. Go, go, go!"

"Come on, come on."

"Find the wound and plug it up!"

"One and two and three and four and five and . . . ," Gericitano said, counting chest compressions.

A fire engine arrived at 10:07 p.m.

"And 10 and 11 and 12 and. . . ."

"It's one of ours."

At 10:10 p.m., the ambulance arrived.

"So far, I've got one in his shoulder. That's all I can see."

Reports of the suspect's description and potential whereabouts crackled on radios.

"This guy ran northwest," someone said at 10:11 p.m.

An officer spoke solemnly into his phone.

"Serious. Very serious."

The officers surrounding Roberts tried to stay positive.

"Come on, Mike, we're all with you, Mike."

"You're okay."

"There's got to be another hole somewhere."

"Stay with me, Mike."

Paramedics wheeled Roberts to the ambulance at 10:14 p.m. Gericitano continued to perform CPR.

"Come on, Mike. Stay with us brother."

As the ambulance drove off, witnesses described seeing a man with a backpack and a big gun.

"I hope he be all right," a woman said of Roberts. "Because the other officer saying he ain't looking too good."

Roberts died at 10:50 p.m. at Tampa General Hospital.

Back at the crime scene, officers talked about the suspected gunman, who was caught hiding behind a nearby home.

"Did you get any rounds off?"

"No, because I didn't know if that was the bad guy or not. He was grabbing something out of his bag. I ducked behind a Dumpster, and he took off."

A female officer said her police dog tried to bite Delgado.

Another officer said he heard their colleagues' beat the "tar out of him." Investigative documents released earlier this month indicated that police punched Delgado in the head and kneed his rib cage after he fought off handcuffs.

"In an overwhelmingly emotional situation, the officers' training and professionalism took over," police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said Monday. "They used an appropriate and necessary level of force to take an armed suspect into custody."

• • •

Delgado, 34, never complained of being injured, McElroy noted.

But after being taken into custody, the former police officer and Army veteran spewed complaints about plenty else.

An audio recording released Monday captures him crying and rambling about his physical ailments, his homelessness and his frustration with what he viewed as an uncaring world.

"You're just displaced," he said, his voice bearing the island lilt of his birthplace, St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

He said he had been walking toward the Veterans Affairs hospital in Tampa after getting no help in St. Petersburg.

He said he got paranoid around people. He worried about a bullet coming his way one day.

"Tonight was wrong, man," he said. "Forgive me, man, but it was just too much s---, you know? I've been trying to live a good life. But it's like sometimes, when you're in the dirt and you don't belong in the dirt, you know how bad you feel, man?"

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

Newly released recordings reveal frantic scramble to save Cpl. Mike Roberts 12/21/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 12:39pm]
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