Saturday, June 23, 2018
Public safety

Pinellas State Attorney's Office: Fatal shooting by deputies justified

*EDITOR'S NOTE: The man shot by Pinellas County sheriff's deputies in October after law enforcement said he went on a shooting rampage survived. An earlier version of this story said otherwise.

LEALMAN — The State Attorney's Office has concluded that a shooting involving two Pinellas County sheriff's deputies that left a man dead on Nov. 5 was justified.

State Attorney Bernie McCabe, who represents Pinellas and Pasco counties, said deputies Jake Gauthier and Jonathan Segrete feared for their lives when they fatally shot 49-year-old John Zemola. Zemola was advancing toward the two deputies wielding a knife when they fired seven rounds at him, McCabe said in a statement detailing findings from his office's investigation into the matter.

"It is my conclusion that the death of John Zemola was the result of having been shot by Deputies Gauthier and Segrete of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office while in the performance of their legal duties and that the shooting was justifiable homicide," McCabe said in his statement.

Gauthier and Segrete were responding to a domestic dispute between Zemola and his wife Cammy Zemola at their residence at 5198 64th St. N. in Lealman.

The couple, married for 18 months, had gotten into an argument that morning when John saw a text message from Cammy's ex-husband in her phone, McCabe's statement said.

The State Attorney's Office found that Zemola became physically violent with his wife later that evening, prompting Cammy to text her mother to call law enforcement.

Zemola was ramming his pickup truck into his wife's car and the couple's home when deputies arrived. The Sheriff's Office has said he advanced on the deputies with a knife and ignored commands to drop the weapon when he was shot.

An autopsy report showed Zemola had a blood-alcohol level of .221 and medication for bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression.

The shooting was one of three recent deputy-involved shootings in the Lealman area. In October, deputies shot a man who was on a shooting rampage after being evicted from his residence. Another man was fatally shot by a deputy the night before Thanksgiving at an apartment complex for disabled veterans after the Sheriff's Office said he wielded a knife at two deputies who were called to the apartments for a domestic dispute.

Contact Times staff writer LaVendrick Smith at [email protected] Follow @LaVendrickS

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