Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wounded Pinellas cemetery owner's lawyer looks at suing trooper

PINELLAS PARK — Although a Florida Highway Patrol trooper who shot a cemetery owner on his property was cleared by state officials, the man's lawyer said his client should never have been shot.

"We still have very, very large concerns about whether or not this shooting should have ever happened," said attorney Todd Vargo.

On Sept. 10, Clifford F. Work, 48, was sleeping in a maintenance shed at Royal Palm North Cemetery at 6200 Gandy Blvd. when Trooper Daniel Cole entered the property tracing the signal of a stolen motorcycle.

Work heard a knock at the door. He picked up his handgun and opened the door. Moments later, Cole, fearing for his life, fired 15 shots from a rifle, according to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation released to the Tampa Bay Times this week.

Cole was cleared of wrongdoing after an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

But for Vargo, the case is not over. The attorney plans to review every piece of evidence in the case, including photographs, audio, statements and video surveillance from Cole's car to decide whether he will be filing a civil lawsuit against the trooper.

"We have a ways to go before we responsibly move on whether or not to seek that civil lawsuit," Vargo said. "Our position is that the shooting should never have occurred."

Also, Florida Highway Patrol will conduct an internal review of the shooting, said spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins.

"Now that the criminal part is over, the internal part begins," said Gaskins. It was unclear how long the review would take.

The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office has no plans to launch its own probe of the shooting, said prosecutor Mark McGarry.

But the State Attorney's Office did meet with FDLE investigators days after the shooting to "advise on some legal issues," McGarry said.

The stolen motorcycle that Cole tracked inside the cemetery is still part of the investigation, and no arrests have been made, said Pinellas Park Police spokesman Sgt. Brian Unmisig.

Detectives were still trying to figure out how the motorcycle ended up in the cemetery, Unmisig said.

Work's name has not come up in that investigation.

"There's nothing that points to that now," Unmisig said.

Cole returned to work several days after the shooting, Gaskins said.

Work began settling back into work a few days ago, Vargo said, because he suffered complications from the wound to his leg.

"He is lucky to be alive," Vargo said.

Wounded Pinellas cemetery owner's lawyer looks at suing trooper 11/08/12 [Last modified: Thursday, November 8, 2012 11:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks


    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  2. Mariners lose lefty Drew Smyly to Tommy John surgery


    SEATTLE — Drew Smyly was the centerpiece to one of Seattle's many offseason moves by general manager Jerry Dipoto. He was a priority acquisition as a proven lefty for the rotation the Mariners believed would thrive pitching at Safeco Field.

    Drew Smyly will undergo Tommy John surgery after being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Seattle announced the diagnosis on Wednesday, ending Smyly's hopes of returning during the 2017 season. [AP photo]
  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Busted: How a Times photographer captured Donald Trump's fake news


    Tampa Bay Times photojournalist Scott Keeler was on assignment last summer for a story about Donald Trump’s presence in Palm Beach, a tale of glamour and conflict. Along the way he inadvertently captured evidence of a …

    Near the main entrance at Mar-a-Lago, the fake Time magazine cover is on display in July 2016.
  5. Jones: Steve Yzerman's plan for getting the Lightning back into the playoffs

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Seems like forever since the Lightning played a hockey game.

    If the Lightning season started right now, would Steve Yzerman be happy with what he has? "We're still a couple of players short,'' Yzerman said.. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]