TAMPA — A Tampa teenager shot by a Hillsborough sheriff's deputy remains in the hospital paralyzed from the chest down, his family's attorneys said Tuesday.
In their first statement to the news media since the March 26 shooting, attorneys for the 17-year-old boy and his family said the teen was unarmed and the shooting was not justified. The statement also highlighted Deputy Daniel Estanislau's decision to give a statement to investigators about the incident through his lawyer.
"This confirms what has been known since the tragic and unexplained near-fatal shooting — that the deputy's decision to shoot an unarmed 5'3" black teenager is not and cannot be justified," the statement says.
Citing exemptions to public records laws pertaining to juvenile suspects, the Sheriff's Office has declined to release the teen's name. The family statement released Tuesday doesn't identify him, either. One of the family's attorneys, Michael T. Davis of the Miami firm Kuehne Davis Law, told the Tampa Bay Times the family wasn't ready to release the boy's name. Davis declined further comment.
Estanislau, 26, shot the 17-year-old boy about 7:45 p.m. while responding to a domestic violence call at the Jasmine Terrace Apartments on Skipper Road. According to an account of the incident previously released by the Sheriff's Office, Estanislau feared for his life because he thought the teen was armed. No weapon was found at the scene. The teen has not been charged with a crime.
When asked to comment on the family's statement, the Sheriff's Office agency sent out this statement:
"I remain committed to providing the family and the community with the facts of this investigation after review by the State Attorney's Office," Sheriff Chad Chronister said in the statement. "I continue to ask for the community's patience as we work to complete this process."
The agency said a criminal investigation is continuing in this case, and that Estanislau provided his statement on Friday, more than two weeks after the shooting.
"Deputy Estanislau has been afforded his rights as would any subject of a similar investigation," the Sheriff's Office said. "He has provided a written statement, although not required. These types of investigations require time, in order to ensure that they are thorough, impartial and accurate."
The Sheriff's Office has also asked for help identifying and locating a man who was in the area at the time of the shooting. Detectives have conducted additional interviews, forensically mapped the shooting scene, reviewed all forensic evidence and submitted Estanislau's firearm to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for analysis, the Sheriff's Office said. Once complete, the investigation will be sent to the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office for review.
"While we appreciate the sheriff's willingness to continue searching for witnesses to confirm that the use of deadly force was unjustified, we also believe the teenager, his family and the entire community are owed a prompt explanation of the shooting of an unarmed black young man," the family's statement said.
"His entire life will never be the same because of the unjustified shooting."
The family is also represented by a second law firm, Rywant, Alvarez, Jones, Russo and Guyton in Tampa. The attorneys urged anyone with information on the shooting to call them.
Contact Tony Marrero at email@example.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.