TAMPA — A Tampa man says detectives have told him that a Tampa police officer was behind the wheel of an unmarked car last week that struck his father, who was found dead in what authorities have called a hit-and-run accident.
But Tampa police have not acknowledged publicly that one of their officers may have been involved in a fatal pedestrian collision more than a week after it occurred.
Bradley McIntire says Tampa police told him Tuesday that DNA taken from blood on the bottom of a police car matched that of his father, William Dale McIntire, 60.
The elder McIntire was decapitated when the car ran over him, his son said. It happened about 11:35 p.m. June 28 on N 40th Street at the intersection of E Flora Street in Temple Crest.
"I know enough to say it was an officer that was involved," Bradley McIntire said. "I guess they want to say they don't know if he killed him or if he got struck earlier."
About two hours after the elder McIntire was found dead, police issued a news release saying they were investigating a fatal hit-and-run accident. They said witnesses reported seeing a dark sport utility vehicle hit the man.
An incident report released later that day noted that McIntire was lying in the road when the vehicle hit him. The vehicle, which police said at the time might have been a Chevrolet Tahoe, was last seen speeding south on N 40th Street.
When a Tampa Bay Times reporter asked the department last week if the car might have been a law enforcement vehicle, Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said at that time her agency had no information that an officer's car was involved.
Asked again Wednesday, Davis issued a statement:
"We have an active investigation and under Florida law there is certain information we can't release. We have been aggressively investigating this tragedy since it occurred. As of today, we are no longer looking for the vehicle involved."
Bradley McIntire, 30, said three officers woke him at 3 a.m. June 29 to tell him his father had been killed in a hit-and-run accident.
But it wasn't until Tuesday that he learned an officer was behind the wheel, he said.
Detectives investigating the case told McIntire that the officer was heading to a robbery call and did not realize he had hit anyone.
"There is still definitely some questions I have to answer," McIntire said. "I want to make sure I'm getting accurate information. I want to make sure nothing is being left out."
McIntire said his father had just left a nearby bar when he was hit. He said bar patrons who were there told him his father was walking upright and appeared fine.
"I can't help but wonder if everything I'm being told is the complete truth," he said. "The cops are trying to tell me it was an honest mistake. I drive past the scene every day. When I see it, I see nothing but lights."
McIntire described his father as a hard-working Army veteran, who made his living building fences. He left behind a wife, three sons, a daughter, and two grandchildren.
"If it was me, if I hit a cop and took off what would happen to me?" McIntire said. "How different is the justice system going to work for the officer involved than it does for me?"
Contact Dan Sullivan at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.