Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Public safety

State attorney declines to charge Tampa police officer who ran over man's head

TAMPA — A police officer who ran over a man's head in June will not be charged with a crime.

Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober wrote in a letter Friday that there is no probable cause to charge Officer Jeremy Dabush in the death of William Dale McIntire. Ober's decision comes after a three-month investigation.

McIntire, 60, was lying in the road the night of June 28 on N 40th Street, south of E Crawford Street, when Dabush's sport utility vehicle crushed his skull.

Police worked the accident as a hit-and-run. Witnesses at the scene reported seeing a dark SUV run over McIntire. The vehicle was later identified as one driven by Dabush, who was heading to a robbery call.

Investigators found no indication that Dabush, 26, was aware that he had hit someone.

"I do not find probable cause that Jeremy Dabush committed any crime," Ober wrote in a letter to Tampa police Chief Eric Ward.

Ober's letter offers the first public account of the investigation into McIntire's death.

Witnesses reported seeing a dark sport utility vehicle about 11:35 p.m. June 28 speeding south on N 40th Street. A second SUV, marked with a "K-9" logo, followed close behind.

Witnesses told police they saw one of the two SUVs run over McIntire. Both continued south without stopping.

A detective called K-9 Officer David Hassett to the scene. An inspection of his vehicle found no evidence that he had hit a pedestrian.

Police officials ordered an inspection of all Tampa police SUVs that were in use. None, including Dabush's vehicle, showed obvious signs of a collision with a pedestrian.

Investigators obtained surveillance videos from nearby homes and businesses, which showed the dark SUV passing moments before the K-9 vehicle. Detectives narrowed a list of cars that matched the description, ultimately concluding that the dark SUV was a green Jeep that Dabush was driving.

Dabush is a member of the Rapid Offender Control, or ROC, squad, a group of plainclothes officers who target areas of high crime. He was heading to a robbery call in the Seminole Heights area when McIntire was hit.

Dabush was driving at "priority two" — a police designation that allows officers to go up to 15 mph over the speed limit with lights and sirens.

In an interview two days later, Dabush acknowledged he drove down N 40th Street about the time the accident happened.

On July 1, investigators put Dabush's Jeep on a lift. They found tissue and fluid on the undercarriage. Samples tested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement matched McIntire's DNA.

A few weeks later, investigators interviewed Dabush again. He gave no indication that he knew he had run over someone, according to Ober's letter. He did not use his lights and sirens because he did not think he was driving fast enough to do so, according to the letter. He did not wash the SUV in the days that followed.

Investigators interviewed Dabush's girlfriend, who said Dabush was excited after his shift June 28. She characterized it as the best day of his career because he had helped arrest suspects in a series of robberies. Other people reported nothing unusual about Dabush's behavior.

Toxicology tests showed McIntire was extremely drunk when he was hit, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.30, more than triple the legal limit if he were driving.

An internal police investigation remains ongoing to determine if Dabush violated any department policies.

"We are very pleased with the exhaustive investigation and report by the State Attorney's Office," Dabush's attorney, Richard Escobar, said in a statement. "While we are saddened by the tragic loss of life in this case, we have always been extremely confident that the facts and evidence in this case would clearly show that Officer Jeremy Dabush had committed no wrongdoing and was not responsible for the death of William McIntire.

"Officer Jeremy Dabush is an outstanding police officer with the Tampa Police Department who will continue to serve that department and this community well."

Contact Dan Sullivan at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.

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