Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man shot by state trooper at cemetery is business owner with no criminal record

PINELLAS PARK — The man shot by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper Monday morning at a Pinellas Park cemetery was the cemetery's owner — a Tampa man who lives in a 7,000-square-foot home, has no criminal history and has held a concealed-weapons permit.

Clifford F. Work remained hospitalized in fair condition Tuesday at Bayfront Medical Center as questions remained about why Trooper Daniel Cole, a 13-year FHP veteran, shot the 48-year-old businessman.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting, which is the latest in a string of incidents throughout Cole's career in which his actions have been scrutinized.

"Just because he acted properly or improperly in the past doesn't mean this act is proper or improper," said FHP spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins. "He was in the graveyard for a valid purpose. Unfortunately, things happen. It is what it is."

Cole entered the grounds of the Royal Palm North Cemetery on Gandy Boulevard about 6 a.m. Monday as he was tracking a signal from a LoJack theft-recovery system on a stolen motorcycle, officials said. The search led him to a garage at the rear of the cemetery grounds.

Cole called for backup and was soon joined by two Pinellas Park police officers. Work emerged as the trio approached. Work was armed, authorities said, and Cole shot him.

FHP officials did not provide more specific details Tuesday.

Reached at the hospital Tuesday, Work declined to comment.

"Right now, it's not the right time or the right place," he said.

Work referred questions to his attorney, Todd Vargo, who was in Work's hospital room Tuesday evening. Vargo also declined to say much about the shooting.

"He's basically getting his wounds taken care of," Vargo said. "He has some bad wounds to his leg area."

Work has no record of arrests in Florida, according to state records, and was licensed to carry concealed weapons. He is the owner of Work & Son Inc., a Tampa-based company that operates multiple cemeteries, including Royal Palm North.

The FDLE will determine whether Cole's actions were justified. The trooper is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

A year ago, Cole was the subject of another investigation after he used a Taser to subdue a handcuffed woman, who fell and struck her head on an asphalt parking lot. She subsequently went into a coma. In that case, Cole's use of the Taser was ruled justified.

The same was the case in 2001, when Cole shot a man in the hand during a traffic stop. In that incident, the man made a sudden movement toward Cole after reaching toward the car's floorboards while ignoring repeated commands to show his hands, troopers said. Cole shot the man, who turned out to be unarmed.

"There have been officers before who go their whole career and never draw their gun," Gaskins said. "And then there's officers that get in multiple shootouts with multiple suspects."

Dan Sullivan can be reached at (727) 893-8321 or dsullivan@tampabay.com.

Man shot by state trooper at cemetery is business owner with no criminal record 09/11/12 [Last modified: Thursday, September 13, 2012 2:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Late night update: Second wave follows Tropical Storm Harvey

    Hurricanes

    UPDATE: At 11 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  3. Stealth anti-Jack Latvala group tied to Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    Politico reports:

     A longtime political consultant for Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is behind a website calling one of his rivals in the race, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a “liberal.”

  4. Council gives in to pension dispute with St. Pete firefighters

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council was forced to consider its first labor dispute in years Thursday when it gave the firefighters union most of the pension enhancements it has long asked for.

    The firefighters’ union won a pension victory at Thursday’s City Council meeting. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  5. Bucs start strong vs. Jaguars

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — On his worst pass of Thursday's preseason game against the Jaguars, Jameis Winston threw a ball from the seat of his pants toward the end zone and it appeared to be intercepted by safety Barry Church.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown of the first half on a 2-yard run, squeaking past Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter.