Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Public safety

Largo police identify man fatally shot by officer at traffic stop

LARGO — Police on Monday identified the man who was fatally shot by an officer this past weekend and offered new details about the incident.

Linus F. Phillip, 30, was fatally shot by the officer at the Wawa gas station at 1215 Missouri Ave. N on Friday, according to Largo police.

The incident started just before 6 p.m. Largo police Officers Matthew Steiner and Prentice Ables pulled over a black Nissan sedan driven by Phillip at the gas station due to illegally tinted windows, officials said.

While talking to Phillip, police said the officers smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle.

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

As officers tried to detain him, police said Phillip jumped into the driver’s seat of the Nissan and tried to drive away.

Steiner found himself trapped halfway in the vehicle as Phillip put it in reverse and accelerated with the driver’s side door open, police said. Ables was able to get out of the car’s way.

While Steiner was being dragged by the car, police said he drew his firearm and fired "in self-defense," police said. The officer then fell out of the car and found the open driver’s side door "brushed" over him.

The Nissan, still going in reverse, hit another car, crashed into the gas station’s bollards and then stopped between two gas pumps.

Officers then started medical treatment for Phillip and called for paramedics, police said.

Phillip was later pronounced dead at Largo Medical Center.

Afterward, police said they found a "significant amount" of crack cocaine, powdered cocaine and marijuana in his car. Police did not say how many times Steiner fired his weapon.

"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 Friday night hours after the incident. "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."

Steiner a seven-year veteran of the force, was injured in the incident and taken to Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater for medical treatment.

Phillip had served two short stints in prison in 2009 and 2014 for drug charges, according to state records. He had been freed in October 2014 on early release, police said.

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