TAMPA — A Tampa police officer fatally shot an 18-year-old early Monday after the teen wrestled with the officer and a police dog in a swampy thicket, authorities said.
Police said the struggle that led to the death of Kobvey Igbuhay began with a car chase several miles away. About 2:30 a.m. Monday, an officer tried to pull over a stolen sport utility vehicle Igbuhay was driving near N Nebraska and E Lake avenues.
Igbuhay sped off with three passengers inside, and a police helicopter tracked them to the back yard of First Korean Presbyterian Church at 4307 W Humphrey St., authorities said. The occupants, all teenagers, bailed out of the car and fled into a wooded area behind the church, police said.
Police spokesman Steve Hegarty said dozens of officers and several police dogs moved in and set up a perimeter. In some spots, Hegarty said, the water was chest-high. Among the officers was Jimmy Houston, a 15-year veteran currently assigned to the canine unit.
Two of the teens were quickly captured, Hegarty said. Titus, one of the police dogs, located Igbuhay in swamp water and jumped in ahead of Houston.
Igbuhay was able to grab Titus and push him under, holding him there until the dog lost consciousness and was floating in the water, Hegarty said.
Houston, who also was in the water, pulled Titus out of harm's way, Hegarty said. Houston then approached Igbuhay, who jumped up and began pushing down on the officer.
Houston was wearing standard equipment and vest, which weigh about 35 pounds, Hegarty said. When Igbuhay kept pushing, Houston fired one shot. It is unclear where Igbuhay was hit. Hegarty said the information wasn't being released.
With the help of his partner, Houston quickly removed both Igbuhay and Titus from the water, Hegarty said. The dog was revived. The officers performed chest compressions on Igbuhay, who was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he later died.
Hegarty said it does not appear any of the teenagers fired a weapon. He said it is unclear if any of them were armed. "As far as I'm aware, those were just the shots fired by the officer," he said.
Titus, a 6-year-old German shepherd, was not harmed. Houston was taken to a hospital to get checked out but did not suffer any serious injuries. He was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting.
Police identified two of the other teens in the incident as Dominic Robles and Shakira Rodriguez, both 18. The fourth person in the stolen car was a 16-year-old who was not named. Rodriguez was the last to be detained. She hid in the swamp for three hours before being arrested around 6:30 a.m. Monday.
Charges are pending against all three, police said.
Records show Igbuhay was arrested last month by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for failing to appear for a court hearing on a previous charge of driving without a license. Hegarty said Assistant Chief Brian Dugan met with Igbuhay's family Monday.
Shirley Igbuhay, an aunt, said Monday that she could not yet talk about her nephew.
Igbuhay was about 5-foot-5 and weighed about 120 pounds, according to his month-old arrest report. Regardless of his build, Hegarty said, the 18-year-old was capable of doing harm because they were in the water.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Katie Mettler at (813) 226-3446 or [email protected] Follow @kemettler.