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Pinellas sheriff's deputies shoot knife-wielding man dead in Dunedin

Deputies were called to this home in Oak Bend Mobile Home Park in Dunedin early Tuesday because of a man threatening to hurt himself with a knife.
Deputies were called to this home in Oak Bend Mobile Home Park in Dunedin early Tuesday because of a man threatening to hurt himself with a knife.
Published Nov. 19, 2014

DUNEDIN — Michael Case wanted to hurt himself with the steak knife in his hand, so his girlfriend called 911 just after midnight Monday and restrained him on the floor.

When deputy Jose Berrios-Collazo walked into the trailer inside the Oak Bend Mobile Home Park at 801 Main St., he stepped on Case's arm and began to retrieve the Taser from his belt. Suddenly, Case forced his girlfriend aside and lunged at the deputy, authorities said.

Berrios-Collazo retreated and ordered Case to drop the knife. Deputy Peter Eigo, who had just arrived, saw the confrontation and also told him to toss the knife away.

When he didn't follow commands, Berrios-Collazo and Eigo, who has been involved in two previous shootings, drew their guns and fired, the Sheriff's Office said. Case died at the scene.

"They tried everything they could to try to resolve it without deadly force," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. "Unfortunately, this guy did what he did and got very violent."

A woman who answered the door of the mobile home Tuesday morning declined comment.

Case has previously been convicted on charges of cocaine possession, dealing in stolen property, petit theft, and fraud, state records show. Gualtieri said he had also been taken into custody under the Baker Act.

Berrios-Collazo, 31, and Eigo, 54, were placed on routine paid administrative leave.

This is not the first time the deputies have been under review.

Tuesday's shooting marks the third time Eigo, a 27-year veteran, has shot a suspect.

He was among SWAT team members who arrived at a St. Petersburg house in July 1994 to execute a search warrant. When they called out "police" and "Sheriff's Office" and no one emerged, deputies went to the back yard. Robert Lee Peters, inside with his family, shot at the deputies and three of them, including Eigo, fired back, the Sheriff's Office said at the time.

Investigators later concluded that Eigo fired the shot that killed Peters.

A year later, Eigo was chasing a man accused of threatening a Hungry Howie's Pizza manager with a gun when the suspect pointed a stolen handgun at another deputy. After the man ignored commands to drop the weapon, Eigo shot him, but the man survived, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"You have some people who go through a whole career and never had to use deadly force," Gualtieri said. "You have some where unfortunately it happens several times."

Before joining the Pinellas Sheriff's Office, Berrios-Collazo was working as a Pasco deputy when a Pinellas sergeant stopped him in 2008 for speeding and weaving in Tarpon Springs traffic.

The sergeant only filed an incident report and did not conduct a DUI investigation on Berrios-Collazo, who was later fired from the Pasco Sheriff's Office for driving while impaired.

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But since his hiring in June 2012, Berrios-Collazo has not had any problems, Gualtieri said.

Times staff writer Josh Solomon and researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Contact Laura C. Morel at lmorel@tampabay.com or (727)445-4157. Follow @lauracmorel.

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