U.S. marshals may be more open about shooting incidents

TAMPA — A month after a deputy U.S. marshal shot a suspect and the agency released no information about it, federal officials say they may be more forthcoming about such incidents.

Pete Cajigal, assistant chief with the U.S. Marshals Service Middle District, said Wednesday that the discussion was sparked by publicity that followed an Oct. 16 incident in which a deputy marshal accidentally shot a fugitive during a foot chase.

Initially, the Marshals Service released nothing about the incident, which happened at 11 a.m. on a Thursday outside the Club at Hidden River Condominiums.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the matter and, by Oct. 17, confirmed some of the basic details.

But Wednesday, a day after the FDLE released an 83-page investigation into the incident, was the first time the Marshals Service addressed the case.

Typically, local law enforcement agencies like the Tampa police and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office release timely reports when an officer is involved in a shooting.

Cajigal and Chief Deputy Marshal Thomas Figmik said they recognize withholding information about an officer shooting could erode public trust.

David Christopher Sills, 26, was wanted on outstanding drug warrants when several deputy marshals went to a condominium to arrest him.

Sills ran from the officers and Keith Vinski, a deputy marshal with 13 years experience with the agency, pursued Sills through a wooded area, his gun drawn, according to the FDLE report.

The two eventually collided, according to the report, and Vinski's gun fired into Sills' back.

Though Vinski told investigators the shooting was accidental, the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office reviewed the matter and ruled the use of force justified.

Cajigal said Vinski was not disciplined, and returned to his job the next day.

After being treated at Tampa General Hospital, Sills was booked into the Orient Road Jail, where he remains on charges of drug trafficking, four counts of resisting arrest without violence and one count of resisting arrest with violence.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3383.

U.S. marshals may be more open about shooting incidents 11/19/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 21, 2008 7:45pm]

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