Friday, October 15, 2004

Sheriff Releases Statement On Shooting

I have a duty and a responsibility as your Sheriff to dispel the numerous
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
life-threatening situation.

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
deadly weapon.

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


  1. Anonymous9:57 AM

    Right...this desperado may have had children in the vehicle when the highly skilled "professionals" unloaded their weapons at the vehicle.

    Oh, of course, the usual "get out of jail card" the suspect was using the vehicle as a deadly weapon (any proof of intent needed here..?) was played by the cops.

    The "enormous" weight of the SUV had to be mentioned (to give more credibility perhaps)as well as the disclosure of alcohol and cocaine use (any proof, again..?) which the cops knew about PRIOR to attempting to murder this woman.

    Her prior criminal record was also published in the excuse (sorry, report) from the sheriff..nice one.

    Must have been a really boring night for the SEVEN (7) deputies, some of whom were off-duty.

    Hoping that a really excellent lawyer takes up the woman's case and closely examines the facts in this shameful case. It won't change the outcome of course, just nice to have the truth.

    Have a safe day, especially if you're driving in Hendry County.

  2. Anonymous12:18 PM

    Mr. Worley,
    Your defense of the indefensbile is possible one of the most blatant abuses of careful wording I've witnessed in quite some time.

    You have a duty to ensure your deputies enforce the law responsibly, not reacting in the excitement of the moment like a lynch mob.

    I do not know this woman, or her history and frankly, don't think her criminal record is relevant unless the Hendry County Sherriff's Dept. had been informed that they were chasing a multiple murderer on the run and had positive identification prior to the shooting.

    From every single thing I have read and heard about this case, it was unconscionable to shoot this woman.

    1. Her prior criminal record was completely UNKNOWN to the deputies who riddled her with bullets.

    2. Having a prior criminal record does not negate our Constitutional Rights of life and liberty.

    3. Witnesses stated 10 shots were fired at this unarmed woman surrounded by patrol cars? The phrase "excessive force" comes to mind.

    4. The windows were very dark tint, so the police couldn't tell if the suspect was armed or not: This also means they could not tell if there were children in the vehicle. It seems the first rule of thumb in most professions is "do no harm".

    5. With the adrenaline and excitement pumping, these cowboys didn't give one ounce of thought to "serve and protect". Instead, "shoot first and ask questions later" seems to be the motto of our current batch of law enforcement "professionals" - and I use that word VERY loosely.

    6. Since when is hit-and-run a Capital offense with the judge and jury being the deputies chasing the obviously distraught woman?

    7. The witness whom she actually hit stated that after the accident she "got out of her car and came up to his, she covered her face with her hands and was crying", then she got in her vehicle and drove away.

    Did the words "in shock" never occur to one single member of the lynch mob chasing this woman? Have any of them ever been involved in a vehicle crash? Are they trained to understand the extreme confusion and panic that can result from a car accident?

    I think it's very clear from all the evidence presented to date that this woman was utterly panicked. Drugs may or may not have contributed to it, that remains to be seen. A suspended license certainly would have. But even if every allegation you made against this woman is true, your deputies still do not have the RIGHT to commit attempted murder, which is the case here in my opinion.

    How disappointing to see such a lame response in defense of the indefensible.

    Best Regards,

    I must state, this post is in no way politically motivated. I could care less who is or is not Sheriff as long as they are responsible individuals. I was raised in LaBelle, but moved away 20 years ago. I'm just thankful the "posse" tactics still tolerated in Hendry County aren't tolerated here. Those deputies and their supervisors up the line would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. As they should be. I'm in agreement with the previous letter, I hope a good attorney will stand up and take up this egregious matter.

  3. Anonymous7:14 AM

    if any of the people that wrote these knew anything about the law maybe they would see things diffrently. first of all police officers do not have to back down from force. they can meet force with force and use enough force necissary to exicute thier duties. next if you were standing in front of a vehicle moving at you, trying to stop the vehicle and the driver has already struck one patrol vehicle, dragging it for a mile down the road, then striking a nother one, i don't think shock is in to play here. further more if the deputies would not have done what they did, the woman would have continued into labelle, possibly stiking citizens. then what would you have to say? that these murders, desperados, or thugs as you put it, should have done more. and last all of the deputies that were involved are of the highest trained in hendry county. half of them are instructors at the police academy. before you people jump to conclusions come walk a night in my shoes.

  4. Anonymous1:34 AM

    i side wit number 3. if you or your kids were drivin down tat same road and was struck and killed or maimed you would want justice and be sayin wy werent cops doin teyre job.we ave rules to live by and if you dont follow te rules you ave to accept te consenquenses.everybody always wants to blame te police force wen all tey are doin is protectin us