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Police: Brother misled investigators in St. Petersburg officer's death

ST. PETERSBURG — The day after Officer David S. Crawford was shot and killed in the line of duty, police had a suspect in custody: 16-year-old Nicholas Lindsey.

But that afternoon, during the largest manhunt in city history, Lindsey's brother gave police a false alibi for his younger sibling, according to new records released Wednesday by the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office.

Anthony Sweat, 19, told investigators his brother did not leave their home at the Citrus Grove apartments the night of Feb. 21, when Crawford died on a downtown street corner a half-mile away.

Sweat told St. Petersburg detectives that he, Lindsey and some friends were playing video games at home that night, records show.

Detective Rodney Tower spotted a lie. Earlier that day, Nicholas Lindsey's mother, Deneen Sweat, told investigators that both her sons left home early that evening, and that Nicholas was not home until after 10:30 p.m. — about the time of the shooting. Later, the mother would prove instrumental in helping police obtain what they say is a confession from her son.

Then Quoshonna Scott, a young woman Anthony Sweat said was also with the brothers that night, denied being there as well, according to records.

Anthony Sweat has previously told the St. Petersburg Times that he was shocked and saddened by his brother's behavior.

Lindsey was charged, as an adult, with first-degree murder in Crawford's death. The trial is set to begin Dec. 12.

The documents also included Crawford's autopsy report, which shows that the 46-year-old officer was shot five times — four times in the upper torso and once in the lower back, according to the medical examiner's report.

Crawford was not wearing his protective vest that night, and police have not explained why. Police policy requires bullet-resistant vests to be worn only in high-risk situations.

Six shell casings from Crawford's .40-caliber Glock were also found at the scene. Police say the officer fired his weapon after being shot, but did not hit his assailant.

Also included in the report is a time line of the nearly five hours Lindsey and his family spent at police headquarters before his arrest. The records show that detectives interviewed Lindsey for an hour total, and that his parents spent 30 minutes with the teen.

Parts of those interviews, including what police say is Lindsey's confession, were videotaped. Lindsey's defense attorney argued in court Tuesday that police are withholding additional video footage of his client. Prosecutors denied it.

The murder weapon has still not been found. Police believe the teen bought the gun on the street for $140.

Luis Perez can be reached at lperez@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2271.

Police: Brother misled investigators in St. Petersburg officer's death 06/08/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 9, 2011 8:04am]
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