Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Public safety

Tarpon Springs officer fatally shoots woman armed with knives (w/video)

TARPON SPRINGS — A police officer fatally shot a woman Friday morning after she charged at the officer with two knives, according to Tarpon Springs police.

The woman ran at the officer, police said, who then fell down while retreating backwards. When an electroshock device failed to stop the woman from advancing, police said, the officer who had fallen shot the woman from the ground.

The woman was later identified as Alkeeta Allena Walker, 33, of Raleigh, N.C. She was pronounced dead at Florida Hospital North Pinellas later in the day.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is now investigating the shooting, which was captured by a video mounted on the dashboard of a police cruiser.

The Tarpon Springs officer who fired his weapon was Matt Geer, a 13-year veteran of the agency. He was placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard in shooting cases. Neither he nor the other three officers who were involved in the incident were injured, police said.

The incident started at about 10:05 a.m., police said, when officers were called to Riverside Drive to check on a woman who was walking down the street.

The caller said she heard the woman tell a group of construction workers to call police. The woman then walked away from the workers, the caller said, and was talking to herself.

Tarpon Springs officers found Walker in front of a home at 442 Riverside Dr. Video from a police cruiser that arrived at the scene as the incident unfolded shows what happened next:

Walker, wearing a red tank top and dark pants, chased Geer around the front yard of the home. Police said she held a knife in each hand as she chased Geer. The officer backpedaled and fell backwards while two others also stood in the yard.

Officers tried to stop her with an electroshock device, police said, but it was ineffective.

Walker backed away, the video showed. Geer remained on the ground. Only his legs remained in the frame. Police said he hit his head when he fell.

The video showed Walker back up against the passenger side of a Tarpon Springs police cruiser parked in the driveway.

Then Walker again lunged towards Geer, who was still on the ground, as a fourth officer ran in to join the others. Geer tried to keep her at bay with his legs. She appeared to be just a few feet from the fallen officer.

Next came the sound of two gunshots, followed by a wail as Walker collapsed on the ground. The incident was over in about 17 seconds.

The video continued to record the officers calling for medical help. One officer stood over the woman with his weapon drawn while another retrieved gloves and tried to provide medical care for Walker.

"She’s got a bullet in the arm, and one in the chest," one of the officers said after examining Walker.

About 50 minutes later, Walker was pronounced dead at the hospital at 10:58 a.m.

The other officers involved in the incident were identified as Cpl. Clyde Thornton, a 26-year department veteran, Officer Jacob Hollingsworth, who was hired in 2014, and Officer Leann Palmer, hired in 2015.

None of the officers were injured, said Tarpon Springs police Sgt. Robert Fuagno.

Police did not release other details about the incident, such as what kind of knives the woman held or whether the woman had a criminal history or history of mental illness.

It’s the second time in a year a Tarpon Springs police officer has shot and killed someone with a knife. On May 6, 2017, the agency said Officer Scott MacIsaac shot and killed Nick Provenza, 25, a mentally ill man who was riding his bike at a downtown car show, after Provenza threatened the officer with a knife.

Both the FDLE and the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office cleared the officer in that case and ruled the shooting was "justifiable homicide."

Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or [email protected] Follow @ByJoshSolomon.

RELATED: Man shot by Tarpon Springs police had troubled mental history, family says

RELATED: State Attorney’s Office: Fatal shooting of man by Tarpon Springs police officer is justified

RELATED: Few new details in state investigation of Tarpon Springs officer-involved shooting of Nick Provenza

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