No charges will be filed against the person who shot and killed 19-year-old University of Tampa student Carson Senfield, according to a letter written by Hillsborough State Attorney Susan Lopez.
The Tampa Bay Times obtained a copy of Lopez’s letter, dated Dec. 27, which cited a Florida statute commonly known as the stand your ground law.
In her letter, Lopez writes to interim Tampa police Chief Lee Bercaw, “A review of the facts gathered during the investigation and applicable law compels the conclusion that [redacted] use of deadly force against Carson Senfield was justified pursuant to Florida Statute 776.012(2).”
The name of the shooter was redacted in Lopez’s letter. The investigation is now closed as a result of the State Attorney’s Office investigation, according to the Tampa Police Department.
Senfield was killed in September after returning home near the 1000 block of West Arch Street around 1:20 a.m. from a night celebrating his birthday at the South Howard Avenue bars. Ralph Fernandez, an attorney for Senfield’s family, said last year the teen’s family believes Senfield could not find his house key and called an Uber to go back and meet his roommate at the bars.
When a car arrived at the home, police said Senfield opened the back door and moved into the back seat. The driver, who, according to Tampa police, feared for his life, fired his gun at Senfield, killing him.
With the case closed, Fernandez told the Times in a Friday phone call that he disagrees with the State Attorney’s Office’s interpretation of the stand your ground law. He also expressed significant frustration with the Tampa police investigation into Senfield’s death.
He claimed the agency “bagged the case,” and called the investigation “shoddy.”
“I guess a killing is not that important to the city of Tampa,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez said he wished former Tampa police Chief Mary O’Connor was still in charge because he believed she was more sympathetic to the Senfield family.
“The loss of a young life is always devastating,” the department’s public information office said in an emailed statement to the Times. “In addition to communicating with the Senfield family throughout this process, the Tampa Police Department took every step to ensure that the investigation into this young man’s death was thorough from beginning to end before presenting all of the evidence to the State Attorney’s Office, where a decision on prosecution was ultimately made.”
While disappointed with the decision to not file charges, Fernandez said he plans to continue searching for new evidence that could lead to charges being filed.