April 16, 2010 — Venice
Tyler Spann, 20, and his friend were walking home from a bar and played a prank by ringing a deputy's doorbell and running away.
Carlos Verdoni, 33, in his night clothes and armed, climbed into his marked sheriff's car and pursued the young men.
He soon found Spann behind some bushes. Verdoni ordered Spann out and held him at gun point while he phoned a friend and fellow law enforcement officer. Read more
During the call, Verdoni claims that he was tackled by Spann and while fighting on the ground, Spann reached for his gun.
Verdoni fired two rounds that killed Spann.
Despite considerable protest in Venice, the shooting was ruled justified after the Sheriff's Office conducted its own investigation, and the State Attorney's Office said it was not filing charges.
In a federal civil lawsuit filed by Spann's parents, experts questioned Verdoni's recounting of the incident, saying the shots were fired from a "superior" position and the lack of blood on Verdoni's shirt proved Spann, a 135-pound former wrestler, could not have been on top of Verdoni when the shots were fired.
Nonetheless, the judge said "at the moment deadly force was employed, a reasonable officer in Verdoni's position could have perceived that Spann posed a threat of serious physical harm to Verdoni" and ruled in favor of the deputy.
About a month after the shooting, Verdoni was suspended and moved off patrol after he got into a verbal altercation with Spann's friends who were taunting him outside a gas station. He called them "retarded" and "pieces of (expletive)," according to an internal affairs investigation.
A federal judge dismissed the civil rights violation against the officer and sent the case back to circuit court for the wrongful death counts. In 2013, the case was voluntarily dismissed before going to trial.
This was the 32nd police shooting in Florida in 2010.
4 ways this case compares to others
- Evidence in this case, and accounts given by officers and witnesses, included conflicting details. That was true for 27 other cases.
- Spann was shot after resisting arrest. A total of 114 people were shot while resisting arrest.
- Spann was drinking alcohol before being shot. That’s true in about 10 percent of police shootings.
- A civil lawsuit was filed in response to Spann's shooting. Ninety other cases led to lawsuits.