Officer shoots wanted man during traffic stop in Lakeland

Haley Hinds reports

- Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said a traffic stop turned violent and resulted in a deputy shooting a suspect Wednesday evening.

Judd said members of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force conducted a traffic stop near Woodland between US 92 and Golfview St. Judd said officers believed a wanted man was inside the vehicle.

When officers asked for the vehicle's darkly-tinted windows to be rolled down, they were met with gunfire, Judd said. Officers returned fire and "neutralized" the suspect inside.

At that time, officers pulled the person from the vehicle and began CPR while rescue crews were called. Meanwhile, they confirmed they were dealing with the wanted man, Francis Perry, who Judd said was a known and wanted, violent felon. 

During a news conference Wednesday evening, Judd said Perry was a suspected member of a white supremacists group and had a long criminal history including aggravated assault, fleeing, impersonating an officer, felon in possession of a firearm, giving false information to law enforcement, possession of meth and marijuana, vehicle theft and burglary. He was released from jail in March, 2016.

Perry was taken to a local hospital and was being treated. The extent of his injuries were not available.

Judd said there would be several investigations into the actions of the officers, but defended their conduct.

"The message is very clear. Don't point your guns and shoot at law enforcement officers if you don't want to be shot," Judd said.

The HIDTA task force that pulled Perry over was comprised of officers from multiple agencies, including Winter Haven police, whose chief echoed Judd's message.

"We will not apologize for defending ourselves," Chief Byrd said.

Judd said additional details about the case would be released Thursday.

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