Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Investigations under way after St. Petersburg officer struck and killed man in wheelchair

ST. PETERSBURG — A 45-year-old man in a wheelchair, loved by his family and neighbors, is dead. A young St. Petersburg police officer is said to be distraught.

And investigators will have a lot of details to sort through over the coming weeks to determine if either man was at fault.

Officer Mehmedin Karic, 26, was driving east on 38th Avenue N early Sunday morning when he struck Harold Charles Fleming Jr. as he tried to cross in his wheelchair near 64th Street.

Fleming, who lived nearby, was thrown from his chair and pronounced dead at the hospital.

Karic, a relatively new officer, was not responding to a call when it happened, police said. He said he didn't see Fleming, who was wearing dark clothing.

Now, the Police Department's traffic unit and internal affairs investigators will determine whether Karic committed a crime or simply had bad timing as the 4:30 a.m. tragedy occurred.

"I don't think there is evidence yet to suggest it was a preventable accident," police spokesman Mike Puetz said.

An internal affairs board, including the police chief, may make a determination of Karic's level of fault in the case at a later time.

Police noted that a street light near the intersection was not working at the time, though it has since been fixed. Data have been collected to determine the officer's speed and a toxicology report will be done on Fleming.

It was unclear where Fleming, a quadriplegic and Dixie Hollins High School graduate, was going at that hour. His sister, Rhonda Collier, told the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday that she and her mother were in shock, though they could not be reached again Tuesday.

Karic will be subject to a "critical incident stress debriefing," or in-house counseling. He will be evaluated, but he has not been placed on leave. He has continued working his regular shifts, Puetz said.

Police personnel records show that Karic, born in Bosnia-Herzegovina, has been an officer since October 2010 and has no disciplinary actions in his record. In fact, in his performance reviews, his supervisors described him as "positive" and "respectful," an employee who is never late and always shows up for court appearances.

Aside from struggling with some grammar issues because English is his second language, Karic has had a good start to his career, the reviews suggest. His supervisors noted he followed safety procedures closely and has had no pursuits or crashes since joining the force.

Emily Nipps can be reached at nipps@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8452.

This story has been changed to reflect the following correction:

The St. Petersburg Police Department is not currently conducting an internal affairs investigation in the case of Officer Mehmedin Karic. A story Wednesday was incorrect on this point. Also, a criticial incident debriefing will be conducted with Karic as part of routine procedure. The story was unclear on this point.

Investigations under way after St. Petersburg officer struck and killed man in wheelchair 02/21/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 2:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa

    Blogs

    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.