Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa grocery store manager stunned by Taser

Gilbert Morris, 51, faces numerous charges.

Gilbert Morris, 51, faces numerous charges.

TAMPA — A man with a history of 50 arrests stunned a grocery store manager with a Taser wrangled from a police officer, Tampa police said Tuesday.

Gilbert Morris, a 51-year-old construction worker, was arrested on charges of obstructing an officer with violence, battery on a law enforcement officer and depriving a law officer of protection, among other charges.

At 8:46 p.m. Monday, Gary Washington, the 44-year-old manager of a Sweetbay Supermarket at 805 E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., stopped Morris from leaving the store without paying for $229 of groceries, police say.

Morris, who is 5 feet 11 and 203 pounds, began to fight with the store manager, and a police officer parked outside the grocery store came in to help, police say.

Officer April Levine tried to arrest Morris, who then began to fight with her. When she tried to use her Taser to stun Morris, he grabbed it. When the store manager tried to help the officer, Morris stunned the manager in the left leg with the Taser, police say.

Two more Tampa police officers soon arrived, pulling Morris to the ground. One of those officers stunned Morris in the back twice with the Taser.

Neither Morris nor the store manager was hurt, but Levine was taken to Tampa General Hospital because she was exposed to Morris' blood, police say.

Levine, 25, joined the Tampa Police Department less than a year ago, starting in August. Other than being bitten by a dog during an investigation, her first year has been free of incidents, said police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. Levine has no disciplinary history with the department.

The incident will be reviewed by supervisors, but it appears Levine did everything appropriately in this case, McElroy said.

McElroy said the officer did what she needed to do to protect herself from Morris.

"It is a risk that officers face on a daily basis," McElroy said.

A Sweetbay store manager said Washington was not at work Tuesday and could not comment for this story. He referred a reporter to the company's corporate office.

Morris remained in Orient Road Jail on Tuesday without bail.

State records show Morris, who has used a variety of aliases, has served five stints in state prison since 1987, in addition to jail time. He was incarcerated from Sept. 13 to Jan. 30 on charges of grand theft, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. His other convictions include battery on a law enforcement officer, robbery and cocaine possession, records show.

News researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Abbie VanSickle can be reached at or (813) 226-3373.

Tampa grocery store manager stunned by Taser 06/24/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 26, 2008 5:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  2. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title


    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  3. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  4. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)


    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]
  5. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.