ST. PETERSBURG — Administrative boards on Thursday cleared three St. Petersburg police officers who were involved in two separate shooting incidents earlier this year.
The chain-of-command boards, which included Police Chief Chuck Harmon, found that Sgt. Karl Lounge was justified in his use of force when he shot an axe-wielding armed robbery suspect April 29, police said.
Lounge arrived that day to assist Officer Christopher Allen, who was trying to arrest Anthony J. Stahley, 27, at 1040 18th Ave. N. Allen had fallen to his knees and Stahley was standing over him holding an axe when Lounge pulled up in his patrol cruiser, police said.
He accelerated and slammed the car into Stahley, knocking him onto the hood of the car. When the car stopped, Stahley slid to the ground before standing back up, still holding the axe, police said. Lounge got out of the car, drew his gun and yelled for Stahley to drop the axe. He refused, police said.
Lounge fired five times, hitting Stahley multiple times. Stahley, who survived the shooting, was later charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
In a separate hearing, a board cleared two other officers who responded to an armed robbery July 5, which ended with one man shot after a short chase.
Officer Nicolo Mangiaracina chased a fleeing car carrying two men who had just robbed the Scorpion Tobacco Shop at 1116 34th St. N, police said. As the officer followed the car south on 34th Street, he saw a man in the back seat, later identified as Jahlil Cobbs, 16, who raised a shotgun and pointed it at him, police said.
Mangiaracina drew his gun and fired several rounds through his cruiser's windshield, police said.
The car subsequently lost control and hit another police car parked at the intersection of Third Avenue N. The driver, Jahi Williams, 15, then fled on foot before a group of other officers arrested him, police said.
As Mangiaracina approached the car, he saw Cobbs still holding the shotgun, police said. He fired several rounds and hit Cobbs once in the leg.
Williams, Cobbs and a third teen who was left behind at the shop, were later charged in connection with the robbery.
Following his arrest, Williams complained that an undercover narcotics detective kicked him in the face, put a gun to the back of his head and threatened to kill him. The board investigated the allegation of unnecessary use of force and ruled that it was unfounded.
They also ruled that Mangiaracina's use of his gun was justified, but noted that the incident revealed unspecified "safety issues," which will be reviewed in an upcoming departmental training event.