Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Public safety

Four St. Petersburg officers cleared in fatal shooting

ST. PETERSBURG — An internal police review found that four officers who shot and killed a man outside a gas station in October were justified.

Acting Police Chief David DeKay determined Thursday that Officers Matthew Laliberte, Scott Kirpan, Mark Kruzell and Matthew Stringfellow all used appropriate force Oct. 17 after responding to a call reporting a man with a gun.

Jason Michael Kerr, 31, had a history of violence and drug abuse. Pinellas County records show Kerr first encountered problems with police at the age of 14. He had since been charged with home invasion robbery, aggravated assault with a weapon and trafficking and possessing illegal drugs, among others.

A State Attorney's Office report also found that before he was shot, Kerr called his wife "to tell her he was going to die tonight," according to the review board report.

That day Kerr sat in the Hungry Baba's restaurant on 18th Avenue S and Martin Luther King Jr. Street. An employee noticed Kerr sweating profusely and handed him a towel, police said.

Later employees called police after they saw Kerr waving a gun in the parking lot.

Kerr drove away in a white Dodge Caravan but officers pulled him over in the Snax convenience store parking lot across the street. From the front seat, Kerr pulled out a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun and fired at police at least three times, hitting two marked cruisers, police said. The four officers shot back, killing Kerr.

A criminal inquiry by the State Attorney's Office also found the shooting justified.

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