1. News

Largo police release video as State Attorney clears officer in shooting

Largo police released surveillance video from the Wawa where an officer shot and killed 30-year-old Linus Phillip. The State Attorney's Office ruled last week the shooting was justified. [Screenshot]
Published Apr. 18, 2018

LARGO — The Pasco-Pinellas state attorney cleared a Largo police officer who fatally shot a 30-year-old man last month.

The letter from State Attorney Bernie McCabe said Officer Matthew Steiner was "in imminent fear for his life" during the March 23 encounter and ruled the death of Linus Phillip a justifiable homicide. McCabe also wrote the initial contact with Phillip, which sprouted from heavy window tint on the car he was driving, was reasonable.

Largo police also released two surveillance videos Wednesday. They do not show the shooting but appear to match some of the account given by police.

The footage, from cameras at the Wawa gas station where the shooting occurred, show a man approaching the driver's side of a black sedan parked at a pump. The car soon accelerates in reverse with its driver's side door open and turns sharply.

A man can be seen getting up from the ground and running with another man toward the car as it slams backward into a pole, then inches forward into a vehicle parked at another pump. Police said Phillip tried to drive away with Steiner halfway in the car, which led the officer to fire his gun.

McCabe's letter builds on the account provided by police with a few more details:

Steiner spotted the car Phillip was driving, a black Nissan Altima, and thought the window tint was illegal. The tag showed it was a rental.

Steiner wasn't sure if he had probable cause to stop the car, so he followed the car into the Wawa at 1215 Missouri Ave. N. He approached Phillip and asked for the rental agreement.

Steiner smelled marijuana coming from Phillip and the car. He asked Phillip why it smelled that way. Phillip said that it didn't and that the officer could search the car. Steiner said he was going to search Phillip first, and Phillip grabbed two bulges in his gym shorts pockets.

Phillip then jumped back into the vehicle. Steiner, caught between the gas pump and the open driver's side door, hopped halfway into the car with him. Phillip put it in reverse as Steiner yelled for him to stop.

Steiner pulled his gun, "thinking that that would get Phillip's attention to stop the vehicle," the letter says. The Altima accelerated in reverse. Officer Prentice Ables, who was also at the scene and had moved out of the way, spotted Steiner hanging out of the car, about to get pulled underneath. Steiner fired his gun four times. Two bullets entered the left side of Phillip's back, one his left arm, and the fourth grazed his left leg. Steiner fell out as the car rounded two gas pumps backward.

Police later found about 0.2 ounces each of marijuana and crack cocaine, about 0.4 ounces of powdered cocaine, an unspecified amount of hydromorphone pills and $1,632 in cash in Phillip's pockets. That differed from the initial account from police, who said the drugs and cash were found inside the Altima. Victoria Armstrong, who dated Phillip and is raising their son, said: "There's so many parts of the case that still aren't adding up," she said. "I just want the truth."


  1. Authorities found 29-year-old Sharee Bradley stabbed to death on Aug. 5. The chief says she had three children; the 12-year-old and 3-year-old were found safe, but Nevaeh had disappeared. Sumter Police Department/Facebook
    DNA from the remains found Friday has been matched to Nevaeh Adams, Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark told reporters.
  2. Cars back up at a Tampa intersection last October, not long before Hillsborough County voters approved a one-cent sales tax for transportation improvements. This week, local officials detailed how the money would be spent, if the tax survives a legal challenge before the Florida Supreme Court. URSO, CHRIS  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Local governments have plans for $527 million in projects. But the Florida Supreme Court would need to clear the way.
  3. FILE - In this Sunday, April 22, 2018, file photo, a statue of a chained man is on display at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a new memorial to honor thousands of people killed in racist lynchings, in Montgomery, Ala. Facing an impeachment inquiry that he and supporters claim is illegal, President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, that the process is a lynching. Some Republicans agree, but the relatives of actual lynching victims don’t. BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Made in a tweet that drew backing from some Republican supporters including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Trump’s claim was ill-informed at best and racist at worst, they said.
  4. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    Damien Wiggins Jr. was found with a gunshot wound in the parking lot of a vacant business on Haines Road.
  5. FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2018 file photo, Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz listens during a status check on his case at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. As his death penalty trial draws closer, a hearing is set for school shooting defendant Cruz in the 2018 massacre that killed 17 people. The hearing Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, likely concerns the setting of timelines leading up to the planned January trial of the 21-year-old Cruz. AMY BETH BENNETT  |  AP
    The hearing Wednesday likely concerns the setting of timelines leading up to the planned January trial of the 21-year-old Cruz.
  6. FILE - This undated file photo released by the FBI shows 3-year-old Kamille McKinney, who police say has been missing since she was abducted while attending a birthday party on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Birmingham, Ala. Investigators searching through garbage found the body of McKinney, who was missing more than a week, and authorities are charging two people with murder, police said Tuesday, Oct. 22. AP
    The child, known as “Cupcake” to relatives, vanished while outside a birthday party on Oct. 12. Investigators know of no link between the suspects and the girl or her family, police say.
  7. An aerial view as police forensic officers attend the scene after a truck was found to contain a large number of dead bodies, in Thurock, South England, early Wednesday Oct. 23, 2019. Police in southeastern England said that 39 people were found dead Wednesday inside a truck container believed to have come from Bulgaria. UK POOL  |  AP
    “We are in the process of identifying the victims, however, I anticipate that this could be a lengthy process," Essex Police Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner said.
  8. A top U.S. diplomat, William Taylor, departs the Capitol after testifying in the Democrats' impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    Democrats said they were shocked and disturbed by what they heard. A look at the key takeaways from Taylor’s statement, which was obtained by The Associated Press.
  9. A Florida black bear (not this one) was found at a Marion County school and removed. CARLTON WARD JR  |  Carlton Ward Jr
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. Weeki Wachee Springs main entrance VAUGHN HUGHES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    From its iconic mermaids to its signature statue, Weeki Wachee Springs will be considered for historic designation.