Advertisement
  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."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    No injuries were reported, according to Pinellas deputies. A tornado may also have passed over Interstate 4 in Polk County.
  2. The Florida Department of Transportation is installing lights on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as part of a $15 million project. During tests this weekend, engineers will illuminate the bridge in a pink hue to commemorate breast cancer awareness month. Courtesy of Florida Department of Transportation
    The Florida Department of Transportation is lighting up the span this weekend to commemorate breast cancer awareness month.
  3. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The 63-year-old crossing guard was hospitalized, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
  4. Amber Perera looks out at the courtroom audience during her sentencing hearing at the Hillsborough County Courthouse. Perera caused a fatal crash on the Selmon Expressway in Tampa in August, 10, 2017 that killed Rita and Luiz Felipak and their 8-year-old daughter Giorgia Felipak. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    Amber Perera is responsible for the 2017 crash that killed a family of three. She hopes to avoid a life sentence. The judge is still deciding.
  5. Tampa Bay Lighting host a watch party on the beach at the Tradewinds resort on St. Pete Beach in February. LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times
    TradeWinds is the biggest resort in Pinellas County.
  6. A view of the downtown St. Petersburg skyline and waterfront from over Tampa Bay.
    The news that the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation wants to change its name to include “Tampa Bay” has been met with resistance.
  7. Yesterday• Hillsborough
    Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    University police say a woman fell to her death Friday afternoon from near the top of the 8-story parking facility.
  8. Alec J. Roarks, 27, has resigned his position at Connerton Elementary School.
  9. A driver lost control and plowed into the garage of a townhouse in the 21400 block of Clubside Loop in Land O Lakes. The homeowner was in the garage at the time but was not injured. The driver suffered minor injuries. But the home's occupants had to leave because of the damage. Pasco County Fire Rescue
    The car drove through a garage wall. The homeowner was inside the garage at the time but was not injured.
  10. The Whole Coffee Company makes Dunkin’-branded Coffee Thins as well as Tim Hortons Double Double bars and its own Whole Coffee Company-branded nudge coffee bars. (Photo courtesy The Whole Coffee Company) The Whole Coffee Company
    The Whole Coffee Company, which is based in Miami, was previously known as Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa. ProspEquity Partners of Tampa owns a majority stake in Whole Coffee.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement