Largo officer shoots, kills motorist who drove at him, police say

Published March 23 2018
Updated March 23 2018

LARGO — One man was dead and an officer was left injured on Friday night in what police officials called a "violent, explosive situation."

The episode started just before 6 p.m. Largo police Officer Matthew Steiner pulled over a black Nissan sedan at a Wawa gas station at 1215 Missouri Ave. N, according to police.

Minutes later, police said, the officer fatally shot the driver.

The identity of the driver was not released by police. But during the traffic stop, police said, the driver used his car to try to pin the officer against the gas pumps.

Steiner, a seven-year veteran, then pulled out his weapon and shot into the vehicle, striking the driver, police said.

"At the time, the officer felt he was in peril for his own life and took action," said Largo police Lt. Randall Chaney at a news conference held later at police headquarters.

"It stopped the action of the suspect at the time, and it may very well have saved people’s lives in the parking lot that night."

The driver was the only person in the car, police said. He was later pronounced dead at Largo Medical Center.

Investigators said Steiner conducted the traffic stop alone, but a backup officer arrived just as he fired his weapon. Police did not say how many rounds the officer fired.

Steiner was injured in the incident and taken to Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater for medical treatment. He is expected to recover.

However, police did not say how the officer was injured or why he pulled the Nissan over. Police released few details about the incident.

Three hours after the incident, more than a dozen police officers and crime scene technicians remained at the gas station. The Nissan sat in front of pump 12, illuminated from the lights overhead. Its rear end was badly damaged.