Advertisement
  1. News

Woman shot by Hillsborough sheriff's deputy during undercover operation files lawsuit

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office investigators work at the scene of a shooting that happened Feb. 6, 2018 during an undercover operation in the parking lot of the Home Depot, 9941 E Adamo Drive. According to a lawsuit filed in federal court on July 12, an undercover deputy shot 19-year-old Racquel Marie Sanchez in the leg as deputies were trying to buy a gun from her boyfriend. Sanchez is now suing the deputy, Dean Greene II, and Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister. [TONY MARRERO   l   Times (2018)]
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office investigators work at the scene of a shooting that happened Feb. 6, 2018 during an undercover operation in the parking lot of the Home Depot, 9941 E Adamo Drive. According to a lawsuit filed in federal court on July 12, an undercover deputy shot 19-year-old Racquel Marie Sanchez in the leg as deputies were trying to buy a gun from her boyfriend. Sanchez is now suing the deputy, Dean Greene II, and Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister. [TONY MARRERO l Times (2018)]
Published Jul. 18

TAMPA — A woman who was shot by a Hillsborough County sheriff's detective during an undercover operation in Brandon last year is suing the deputy and Sheriff Chad Chronister.

The complaint filed Friday in federal court claims Detective Dean Greene II was negligent and used excessive force when he shot Racquel Marie Sanchez in the leg with an AR-15 rifle in February 2018. The complaint alleges Greene also violated Sanchez's Fourth Amendment rights and that Chronister, as sheriff, failed in his official capacity to ensure Greene was properly trained.

"Instead of safely detaining her, (Greene) discharged his AR-15 rifle, striking her with a high-velocity round that penetrated a car door and passed through the width of her left thigh, and causing permanent physical and emotional damages to a 19-year old woman," the suit says.

The so-called buy bust operation unfolded in the early evening hours of Feb. 6. Undercover deputies had arranged to meet Sanchez's boyfriend, Roberto Rivera Jr., in the parking lot of the Home Depot on State Road 60 to buy a suspected stolen firearm, according to the complaint. Greene's role as part of a five-person tactical team was to act as "eyes and ears" by monitoring communications between his fellow deputies, surveilling the scene and detaining anyone with Rivera while other deputies arrested him, the suit says.

Sanchez was driving a 2001 Mercury Grand Marquis and parked next to a car with two undercover deputies inside. Rivera was in the front passenger seat and another man was sitting in the back seat. The deputies expected other people would be with Rivera, according to the suit. Greene and the other four members of the tactical team were stationed nearby in two cars.

Rivera got out of the Mercury's front passenger seat, retrieved a firearm from the trunk and got into the deputies' car. Shortly after, three deputies converged on the undercover car to arrest Rivera while Greene and another deputy ran to the Mercury to detain Sanchez and the other passenger.

The suit says Sanchez immediately complied with the deputies' commands to raise her hands, extending them outside the car window as she sat in the driver's seat. As Greene ran alongside the driver's side of the Mercury, he fired a single round from his Colt AR-15, according to the complaint. The round penetrated the driver's door of the Mercury Grand Marquis and traveled through Sanchez's left thigh.

A few seconds later, the complaint says, a deputy standing behind the undercover car fired one round, striking Rivera and seriously injuring him. The deputy, later identified by the Sheriff's Office as Detective Joshua Lane, mistakenly assumed Rivera, not Greene, had opened fire, according to the complaint.

Greene told a sheriff's sergeant shortly after the shooting that Sanchez did not comply with his shouted commands to raise her hands, according to the complaint. The sergeant recalled Greene saying Sanchez was "possibly reaching for something" and that her hands went up and then back down as he approached the car.

But video footage captured by a surveillance system at a nearby car wash showed Sanchez immediately complied with commands and did not lower her hands before she was shot, according to the suit.

Sanchez was not charged in the incident. Records show Rivera was taken to Tampa General Hospital and booked on several charges including possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession and sale of cocaine and marijuana. He was sentenced in January to two and a half years in state prison, records show.

Greene's round permanently damaged Sanchez's sciatic nerve and she now suffers from a condition known as foot drop, caused by the inability of the nerves in her left leg to control muscles that lift and lower her left foot, the suit says. This has resulted in "a permanent deficiency in her normal gait and permanent limitations on her physical activities" along with permanent pain and discomfort.

According to the complaint, a Sheriff's Office investigation of the incident found that Greene violated the office's standard requiring deputies to use or handle weapons "in a careful, safe, and prudent manner on and off-duty." He was suspended without pay in May 2018 for three days and ordered to take part in remedial firearms training.

Sanchez is seeking a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages. Her attorney, Matt Farmer, declined to comment Thursday.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Crystal Clark said the office does not comment on pending litigation. Greene's personnel file and information about his current employment status were not available Thursday.

Greene was hired in January 2009, according to information previously released by the Sheriff's Office. At the time of the shooting, he had one disciplinary action in his file, a letter of counseling for an avoidable vehicle crash that resulted in damage to, or loss of, an agency vehicle.

Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. This Feb. 19 photo shows a makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting in Parkland. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File]
    The grand jury said districts are creating “unnecessary chaos” and have become “experts at data manipulation.”
  2. Council member Ed Montanari, left, was elected St. Petersburg City Council chair for 2020. Council member Gina Driscoll was voted vice-chair. [Times (2019)]
    The chair guides the council through meetings and generally speak last on issues.
  3. NewSouth Window Solutions has a factory and its headquarters near Tampa, seven factory showrooms around Florida and in Charleston, S.C., and an eighth scheduled to open early next year in the Pensacola-Mobile, Ala. market. [LensLife Productions]
    The buyer is PGT Innovations and wants to expand. NewSouth has a factory in Tampa and eight showrooms, with a ninth on the way.
  4. Methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia sit along side the stolen DeWalt power tool and phony store receipt as evidence is collected on the hood of the car after as two men are arrested at the Home Depot at 10151 Bloomingdale Ave, in Riverview, on Tuesday, June 26, 2019. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    A Times report shows Hillsborough deputies struggle to stomp out tool theft networks tied to drugs.
  5. St. Petersburg officials are looking for residents to volunteer on city boards and committees.
    Residents interested in volunteering on boards should email mayor@stpete.org.
  6. Assistant Attorney General Brian Benzkowski announces charges against ten former National Football League (NFL) players who are accused of defrauding an NFL health care program, at the Justice Department in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. [CLIFF OWEN  |  AP]
    Former Jefferson High star and former Florida Gator, Donald “Reche” Caldwell is among two others who could be charged.
  7. Hillsborough deputies investigate the scene of a deputy-involved shooting on Thursday. [TONY MARRERO  |  Times]
    Sheriff Chad Chronister said three deputies fired upon Romello Barnes, 22, at about 9:40 a.m. at River Pointe Apartments, on Hidden River Drive.
  8. FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2019, file photo, a man uses a cell phone in New Orleans. The Federal Communications Commission is setting up a new three-digit number to reach a suicide prevention hotline. Once it's implemented, people will just need to dial 988 to seek help, similar to calling 911 for emergencies or 311 for city services. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File) [JENNY KANE  |  AP]
    Once it’s implemented, people will just need to dial 988 to seek help.
  9. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, center top, speaking during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Washington. (Matt McClain/Pool via AP) [MATT MCCLAIN  |  AP]
    Speaker Nancy Pelosi is confident Democrats will have the votes to impeach the president next week but said it is up to individual lawmakers to weigh the evidence and decide for themselves.
  10. Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis with Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Sheriff Chad Chronister speaking at Hillsborough High School on Thursday, Dec. 12. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    If students feel supported, educators say, schools will be safer and more productive
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement