TAMPA — Tampa police shot and killed a man during a traffic stop Monday when authorities say he began fighting and tried to get an officer's gun.
The afternoon's escalation underscored how routine police work can quickly become fatal, and evoked memories of another traffic stop that turned deadly for police less than a year ago.
"This is a situation that could have turned out very different for our officers," said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy, referencing the June 29 killing of Tampa police Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab during a traffic stop in east Tampa. "The way the situation ended was dictated by the suspect's actions."
Officer William B. Cain, 41, spotted the man, Pedro E. Quiles, 26, driving erratically at 1:12 p.m. in a Toyota Scion, weaving through traffic and cutting off three vehicles on 15th Street. The officer pulled him over a few blocks later, at 16th Street and Bougainvillea Avenue.
Cain prepared to give him a ticket for aggressive driving, and called for backup after finding that a name the man initially provided on a driver's license had an active warrant for a suspended license.
Police say the suspect initially was cooperative, but then began fighting with Cain.
When he grabbed Cain's gun and attempted to yank it from its holster, Officer Scott Savitt, 31, shouted a warning and then shot the suspect twice, police said.
Quiles later died at St. Joseph's Hospital. The officers are on paid leave while the shooting is investigated, which is the department's standard policy.
On Monday afternoon, police released what they believed was the suspect's name, but later discovered that the driver's license he gave them was incorrect.
Because the suspect had initially given a false name, police conducted a fingerprint examination to confirm his identity.
Late Monday night, police said the man was Quiles, who records show was a self employed mechanic from Tampa with a history of drug and probation violation arrests.
The most recent was just on Jan. 23, when Tampa police charged him with possession of cocaine and a controlled substance, both third-degree felonies, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended or revoked license.
He was released that same day after posting a $4,750 bond.
Officer Savitt joined Tampa police in May 2009 and previously worked for the St. Petersburg Police Department, McElroy said.
Cain has been a reserve officer for five years, including two years with Tampa police, McElroy said.
His personnel file with the department shows he has received several letters of appreciation and a safe driving award. He has never been disciplined by the department.
Times staff writers Jessica Vander Velde and Stephanie Bolling and researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Dan Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3321.