St. Petersburg officers cleared in deadly shootout with fugitive Hydra Lacy Jr.

April 15th, 2011 by Staff

ST. PETERSBURG — The 10 police officers who fired their weapons during the deadly shootout with fugitive Hydra Lacy Jr. were justified in their use of deadly force, according to an internal affairs investigation conducted by the department.

A chain-of-command board found Thursday that the officers not only followed department procedures but that they should be commended for their bravery. The board, convened by police Chief Chuck Harmon, also acknowledged those who didn’t fire their guns but still had a role in the rescues.

“The board members agreed that we all should be very proud to wear the uniform of the St. Petersburg Police Department,” Harmon wrote.

The Police Department’s conclusion was not unexpected. The State Attorney’s Office also cleared the officers of any criminal wrongdoing in February.

Lacy, who was a fugitive in a domestic violence case, was hiding in his attic when a fugitive task force went to look for him on Jan. 24.

According to investigators, Lacy tricked officers into thinking he’d surrendered, then fatally shot canine Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz, who came as backup. A deputy U.S. marshal also was injured.

Lacy then began shooting at officers who converged on the house to try to save the fallen officers. Sgt. Thomas Baitinger was shot and killed during a rescue attempt.

This isn’t the final look into the incident.

Harmon will convene a panel of Tampa Bay area law enforcement experts to review the shooting and the death of Officer David Crawford, who was shot and killed Feb. 21. The panel will examine the department’s tactics, policies and equipment, Harmon said.

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