TAMPA — A Hillsborough sheriff's deputy who shot a 52-year-old man in Tampa last month was justified in using lethal force, the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office has concluded.
Deputy Kevin Stabins was lawfully defending himself when shot 52-year-old Jesus Calderon in the driveway of a home on Gregory Drive on March 19, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren wrote to Sheriff Chad Chronister in a letter Tuesday. The Sheriff's Office released the letter on Wednesday.
The letter cites state law that says a person can use deadly force "if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another, or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony."
Warren wrote in the letter, “Members of my staff responded to the scene, observed a reconstruction of events at that location, and participated in the interviews of witnesses.”
Stabins will return to work on his next scheduled day, said sheriff’s spokesman Danny Alvarez. An internal review by the Sheriff’s Office is still underway.
According to an account previously released by the Sheriff's Office, Stabins responded to the home in the neighborhood off Bearss Avenue after a family member called 911 because Calderon had intentionally cut himself. When Stabins arrived, Calderon was sitting in a chair in front of the garage, holding a knife.
Chronister told reporters after the shooting that Stabins had to use lethal force because Calderon came at him with a knife.
“When the deputy first approached the subject and came in close proximity, he didn’t see the knife until the subject jumped up and aggressively began displaying the knife, advancing toward the deputy," Chronister said at the time.
Calderon's niece, Xiomara Leon, told the Tampa Bay Times the day after the shooting that she witnessed the incident. Leon said her uncle walked slowly toward Stabins with the knife and that Stabins had time to take other, less lethal measures.
Deputies had responded to the home on seven previous occasions after he intentionally cut himself, and each time he was taken into protective custody under the state's Baker Act, records show. Calderon's family told the Times he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and probably expected to be taken into custody the day of his death, too.
Miguel Crespo, Calderon's nephew, said he didn't have a comment on Warren's conclusion when reached by the Times Wednesday but said the family was meeting with an attorney Wednesday afternoon to talk about the case.
Contact Tony Marrero at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 266-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.