1. News
  2. /
  3. Crime

Deputy cleared in shooting that paralyzed unarmed Tampa teen

A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office internal investigation says Deputy Daniel Estanislau’s actions were ‘justified’ in the March 26 shooting.
A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy responding to a domestic violence call at the Jasmine Terrace apartments on Skipper Road shot and wounded an unarmed 17-year-old on March 26. The deputy thought the teen was armed at the time. The teen was paralyzed, and the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office has ruled that the deputy will not face charges. [TONY MARRERO   l   Times] [MCKENNA OXENDEN, TONY MARRERO  |  Tony Marrero]
A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy responding to a domestic violence call at the Jasmine Terrace apartments on Skipper Road shot and wounded an unarmed 17-year-old on March 26. The deputy thought the teen was armed at the time. The teen was paralyzed, and the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office has ruled that the deputy will not face charges. [TONY MARRERO l Times] [MCKENNA OXENDEN, TONY MARRERO | Tony Marrero]
Published Dec. 10, 2019
Updated Dec. 10, 2019

TAMPA ⁠— The deputy who shot an unarmed 17-year-old earlier this year, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down, was cleared by an internal investigation.

Deputy Daniel Estanislau’s actions in the March 26 shooting were “justified” and “consistent” with agency policy, a shooting review board ruled Tuesday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

“These conclusions do not change that a tragedy occurred,” said Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister in a statement. “We are committed to making sure the community has access to all of the information available, and we continue to be in touch with the young man’s attorneys about this incident.”

The internal investigation was the last official inquiry into the incident. Estanislau was cleared of criminal charges by the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office on Aug. 27.

RELATED: ‘How’d I get him in the back?’ New details in shooting of unarmed teen.

Estanislau, now 27, was investigating a report of domestic violence at about 7:45 p.m. at the Jasmine Terrace Apartments on Skipper Road when he encountered the teen. The 17-year-old was arguing with his family in the parking lot and threw his mother to the ground, causing her to suffer a head injury, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The deputy saw the teen and believed he was armed. He twice ordered him to "drop the gun, drop the gun,” then fired twice. But the teen wasn’t armed. All deputies found at the scene was his black cellphone.

“It’s certainly tragic, but had the individual complied with the orders, none of this would have ever happened,” said Estanislau’s attorney Steve Romine.

Romine said Estanislau is looking forward to returning to serving his community. The deputy was placed on light duty during the investigation, and will now free to return to road patrol.

RELATED: Prosecutors clear Hillsborough deputy in shooting that left teen paralyzed

The Sheriff’s Office and the family’s attorney have declined to name the teen, who is now 18. A bullet collapsed one of his lungs, broke a rib and struck a vertebra, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down, according to the prosecutor’s report.

The teenager’s attorneys, which includes Michael Davis and Manuel Alvarez, issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the process, saying they received no notice that the shooting review board was meeting and were given no opportunity to address it before the ruling.

“It is shocking that no one with intimate knowledge of the facts was invited to speak on the teen’s behalf, despite the Sheriff’s personal knowledge that the teen was represented by capable counsel,” the statement said. “We do not consider this to be a transparent process.”

The attorneys said they weren’t surprised by the internal investigation’s findings: “Public records reveal that for the past five years, the Sheriff’s Office has justified the use of deadly force in every instance, no matter how shocking and tragic the outcomes.”

The teen has regained some movement in his arms, his attorneys say, but remains paralyzed from the chest down and confined to home.

RELATED: Deputy who shot Tampa teenager thought cell phone was a gun, attorney says

Prosecutors cleared the deputy of criminal charges after deciding he acted in self-defense because he thought the teen was armed.

“Deputy Estanislau mistakenly believed that the young man had a gun, but his belief was not objectively unreasonable,” said a statement from the State Attorney’s Office.

The agency noted that it is looking to equip its 1,200 deputies with body cameras, but said that decision is not linked to the March 26 shooting.

“While the evidence in this matter is clear, our agency is taking steps to help bring even greater clarity in the future when one of our deputies is faced with a dangerous threat and forced to deploy a service weapon,” Chronister said in a statement.


  1. Jesse Michael Chester, 40, was arrested on 20 counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of video voyeurism, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
    A child porn investigation led to secretly recorded videos of adults using the bathroom, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
  2. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, left, and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody were appointed to the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice by Attorney General Bob Barr. [Tampa Bay Times]
    Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody will also join a commission that will “explore modern issues affecting law enforcement," according to the Department of Justice.
  3. St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway, left, and U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announce the creation of the regional Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    A six-county task force from Hernando to Polk to Sarasota will band together thanks to a $742,000 Justice Department grant.
  4. Facebook user Cornelius King posted this warning on November 19, 2019. Hillsborough County Sheriff says it is a hoax, but the viral message continues to spread online. [Facebook screenshot]
    A viral post encourages Florida drivers to run over people they see in the street to avoid being attacked.
  5. Booking photo of Tyler Andrew Garrison, accused of approaching a stranger in downtown St. Pete, cutting him on his jaw and demanding his wallet. The victim suffered cut that required 20 stitches, police said. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
    The victim suffered a cut to his jaw that required 20 stitches, according to St. Petersburg police.
  6. Robert Eugene Koehler, a 60-year-old registered sex offender from Palm Bay, was arrested Saturday. Authorities believe he is the notorious “Pillowcase Rapist,” who was blamed for attacking over 40 women in South Florida during the early 1980s. [Miami Herald]
    Authorities say the man who spent five years attacking women from South Miami to Deerfield Beach is a 60-year-old registered sex offender from Palm Bay.
  7. Jack Pearcy, left, and James Dailey, right, as they appeared when they each entered Florida's prison system in 1987. Both men were convicted of taking part in the murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio in Pinellas County. Pearcy got a life sentence. Dailey got the death penalty. Dailey's lawyers have argued that Pearcy is solely responsible for the crime. [Florida Department of Corrections]
    The case of James Dailey, facing a death sentence for the 1985 Pinellas County murder of a 14-year-old girl, is full of contradiction, ambiguity and doubt. Court records tell the terrible story.
  8. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    Eleven birds were seized from the property, all with injuries and other signs of fighting.
  9. Ralph Wald and his wife, Johnna Flores, leave the Orient Road Jail on May 30, 2013, after Wald was acquitted in the fatal shooting of her lover. [[TIMES (2013)]  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Ralph Wald shot and killed his wife’s lover in their home in 2013, but a jury found him not guilty. Now he’s charged with manslaughter in the September death of a woman in his home.
  10. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seeking for information about a man accused of killing a duck at a Town 'N Country apartment complex in Tampa. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. [Bay News 9]
    He used bread to lure the bird in before killing it. A complaint was filed with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.