Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Account of shooting by marshal is disputed

TAMPA — When David Sills was shot by a U.S. Marshal's deputy last month, a Tampa police officer wrote that the defendant was shot "due to (his own) actions."

But a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation revealed Deputy Marshal David Vinski said his Glock accidentally discharged, striking Sills in his back and exiting his shoulder.

Are the two accounts irreconcilable?

Tampa police say no.

Sills was fleeing officers who shouted, "Police, stop, don't move," according to a Tampa police report released this week. The TPD officer was a part of a task force serving a warrant that also included the Marshals.

Sills, who fell at least twice as he ran from officers, got up, crouched, then turned and collided with Vinski when the gun went off, striking Sills in the back, according to Vinski's account to FDLE investigators.

"It was the total course of Sills' actions that led to the accidental injury," Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said. "From his choice to flee to his abrupt change of direction, all that led up to the accidental injury."

Sills remains in jail on drug trafficking warrants as well as one felony count of obstructing an officer with violence and three misdemeanor counts of obstructing an officer without violence.

He disputes the notion that the shooting was accidental, and said he is securing an attorney.

"Why did it take 30 days to say it was an accident?" Sills said in a phone conversation from jail.

Sills said he was shot from a distance, and that he did not collide with Vinski.

Contrary to the FDLE report, he said he was not reaching for the waistband of his superhero pajama bottoms as he ran.

He said he was unarmed, and there is nothing in the FDLE report that indicates otherwise.

Marshal's Deputy Ronald Lindbak, the only other officer at the scene of the Oct. 16 shooting who actually saw Sills and Vinski interact, told investigators he heard a pop as Vinski and Sills wrestled on the ground.

Vernard Adams, medical examiner for Hillsborough County, told FDLE investigators it was impossible to tell by looking at photos of Sills' wound whether the shot was fired at short range or not.

According to a 2005 article in the Detroit News, Glocks are known to regularly misfire.

They have no manual safety to prevent them from firing if the trigger is accidentally pulled. And they can shoot with as little as 3 1/2 pounds of pressure on the trigger, which a 5-year-old child can exert.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at or (813) 226-3383.

Account of shooting by marshal is disputed 11/25/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 28, 2008 7:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii


    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan


    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville


    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that "both sides” bear blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer


    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry


    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.