rumors and misstatements of facts regarding the officer involved shooting
on September 22, 2004. As your Sheriff I have wanted to keep all of you
thoroughly informed about the circumstances of September 22nd, however it
is important that you, the citizens understand that a criminal
investigation is on-going by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and
the State Attorney's Office, and I, as Sheriff have limitations placed on
me by law to not do or say anything that jeopardizes this on-going
It is important to provide our citizens with additional information
that has been revealed to date. I have conducted a departmental
administrative review and determined that our deputies acted appropriately
in their efforts to protect the public as well as themselves. They
complied with our departmental policy, and the laws of the state of Florida.
On September 22nd, eight deputies were involved in one way or
another in the pursuit of a vehicle that was being driven by the lone
female suspect. I have reason to believe that she was under the influence
of alcohol and cocaine. FDLE is expected to submit formal charges as soon
as the final lab results are received by the Florida Highway Patrol, who is
investigating the traffic crash aspects of this case.
The driver fled the scene of an automobile crash here in LaBelle
with no apparent regard to the injuries that may have occurred to other
persons involved. Our deputies attempted to stop the suspect, which law
enforcement officers are obligated to do. The suspect driver ran off the
road into the median on a couple of occasions causing the deputies to run
for their life. She refused to stop, which necessitated that the
deputies continue their pursuit. During the ensuing pursuit, the suspect
made a sharp u-turn through the median traveling east back toward LaBelle,
after first having fled westbound. Several deputies attempted to stop her
vehicle with "stop sticks". Although, the deputies were able to flatten
one tire, this suspect continued to drive for several miles, sometimes
traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes of SR-80. During the pursuit
the driver intentionally struck the occupied patrol vehicles several times
with a manner of force to pen two deputies in their cars, placing them in a
I personally responded to the scene of this incident and arrived
just moments after the driver was stopped. I personally assure you that
medical assistance was administered to this suspect immediately following
the termination of this pursuit and is the reason she is alive today.
This suspect has an extensive criminal record and was driving a large 7,200
pound SUV that day after her driving privilege had been revoked. If she
had been obeying the law and had not been behind the wheel that day, this
incident would have never happened.
It is my belief, as your Sheriff, that my deputies did everything
within their power to lawfully stop this recklessly fleeing driver to
prevent her from entering a crowded intersection and causing serious
bodily injury or death to an innocent person or a family.
This was a no win situation for the deputies. They could not allow
this violent criminal to continue placing more lives in danger. There
were limited options available to stop this suspect who was utilizing her
motor vehicle as a deadly weapon. Four of the deputies were forced to stop
her from further endangering the public and the officers. As we all know,
automobiles kill people everyday, especially when used intentionally as a
The deputies' response to this level of force, while unfortunate,
was in response to the suspect's placing our deputies and the public at
risk. The action of the deputies was necessary and justified.
I am aware that FDLE has submitted an affidavit which supports
felony criminal charges against this suspect to the State Attorney's
Office, and that the State Attorney is awaiting receipt of all pertinent
evidence, including video of the pursuit and subsequent shooting, before
making its final determination. When this video and other evidence are
released, I am confident that there will be no doubt that our deputies
conducted themselves properly.
Finally, I assure you as your Sheriff that the good men and women
of the Hendry County Sheriff's Office will continue to protect and serve
the citizens of our community.
-Steve Worley, Sheriff of Hendry County