A 40-year-old man was arrested in last month's fatal road-rage shooting of a Land O' Lakes driver.
Damion Brissett of Tampa faces a charge of second-degree murder, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. He was arrested Wednesday at his home by Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies.
Brissett shot and killed 38-year-old Scott Bartolotti at the intersection of State Road 54 and U.S. 41 in Land O’ Lakes on the night of Jan. 15, according to Pasco deputies. The arrest warrant explains how investigators believe the shooting unfolded, and rules out any claim of self defense, saying Brissett did not need to use deadly force to “prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.”
The warrant explains what the first officers on the scene found, and what investigators later learned after speaking to witnesses:
A Pasco deputy pulled up to the intersection at about 9:20 p.m. and found Bartolotti in the driver’s seat of his blue 2005 Chevy Trailblazer, stopped in the turn lane of SR 54, without a pulse. He had been shot in the area of his left shoulder.
Brissett stood nearby on the phone with 911, according to the warrant, near his silver 2018 Honda CR-V SUV.
Brissett told the deputy that he was stopped in the left westbound lane of SR 54 when the Chevy hit his rear bumper, according to the warrant. Brissett said he got out to look at the damage. Then he said Bartolotti backed-up, then drove toward him.
“He backs up. As I turn around he comes after me,” Brissett told the deputy, according to the warrant.
He told the deputy he “jumped” out of the way — going from the rear passenger side bumper of his Honda to the driver’s side of the Chevy — and fired his .380-caliber Smith and Wesson pistol into Bartolotti’s driver side window, the warrant said. Brissett also told the deputy that the front-end of the Chevy was already past him when he fired.
Witnesses told deputies what they saw:
One witness, who said she was sitting in the passenger's seat of an adjacent vehicle, told deputies that Brissett got out of the Honda and walked to the driver's door of the Chevy. She didn't see the Chevy move. Then she heard a gunshot.
Another witness told deputies Brissett did not walk or stand in front of the Chevy, as he had told deputies, before approaching its driver’s side door.
A driver directly behind both vehicles during the incident said the Chevy “tapped” or “bumped” the back of the Honda. A different driver, parked across the street, said he saw the Chevy “lunge” forward before the shot.
Investigators concluded that Brissett was standing outside the driver’s side of Bartolotti’s SUV when he fired his pistol through the rolled-down driver’s side window, according to the warrant. They found that Bartolotti was driving away from Brissett at the time.
Brissett was booked into the Hillsborough County jail. He will eventually be moved to the Pasco County jail.
Times senior researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Justin Trombly at [email protected] Follow @JustinTrombly.