Saturday, May 26, 2018
Public safety

Shooting of man by Clearwater officer ruled justified

CLEARWATER — When David DiRoma couldn't be reached by his co-workers, his boss was concerned.

Tim Forrest had hired DiRoma as a general contractor for a building project. On Oct. 24, he visited DiRoma at his house at 3018 Merrill Ave. and found him drunk. He told Forrest that he was stressed and needed help.

Two days later, Forrest visited DiRoma a second time.

He had been drinking again. He told Forrest his wife was sick, that only $700 remained in his bank account, that he planned to check himself into rehab. Then Forrest spotted the gun and bullets on the kitchen counter.

Forrest asked him why the gun was out, but DiRoma didn't reply. He offered to help, but DiRoma declined.

Fearing his friend might be suicidal, Forrest left and called 911.

Less than three hours later, DiRoma, 69, was shot dead by Clearwater police Officer Brian Rogers.

DiRoma had pointed a .38-caliber revolver at police outside his home. He had refused to put it down. Only later did police learn the gun wasn't loaded.

These and other details were released this week by Clearwater police after internal affairs investigators ruled that the shooting was justified. The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office has declined to file charges against Rogers.

After Forrest's 911 call, nine officers surrounded DiRoma's house. They called his cell and house phones, but no one answered. Through a loudspeaker, they told DiRoma he was not under arrest, but needed to come out with his hands up, records show.

DiRoma eventually emerged from his house, but armed with a revolver. Again through the loudspeaker, an officer asked him to drop his gun.

Rogers, positioned in front of the home with an AR-15 rifle, ordered DiRoma to drop the revolver about six more times, according to records.

But DiRoma continued walking toward officers and raised his gun in the direction of a corporal. Fearing for the corporal's safety, Rogers fired once at DiRoma, puncturing his torso, records show.

DiRoma was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital, where he later died. An autopsy revealed his blood alcohol level was 0.29. The state assumes impairment at 0.08.

Rogers, a 12-year veteran at the Clearwater department, was placed on administrative leave after the shooting. On Wednesday, he returned to his patrol duties.

Laura C. Morel can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157.

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