Family of man killed by police question officer's actions

- The family of a man killed by Largo police during a traffic stop is accusing officers of using unnecessary force and questionable investigative tactics in the wake of his death.

The top priority for the family of Linus Phillip, 30, is getting access to any surveillance video of their son's death, which happened in the parking lot of a Wawa gas station last Friday.

"I never imagined losing him like this," said Martha Hicks, Phillip's mother. "It's hard to grieve when you're angry because I'm so mad, I'm so angry that they killed my baby. And now I don't know the truth and nobody will tell me."

Officers pulled over Phillip because he was driving a rental car with tinted windows that were too dark.

According to investigators, police tried to detain Phillip because they smelled marijuana, but he jumped into his car and tried to drive away, dragging an officer who was leaning through the window. Detectives said the officer was afraid he'd be pinned between the car and the gas pumps and barriers, so he fired four times, killing Phillip.

"It may very well have prevented people from being injured or possibly killed," Lt. Randall Chaney said the night of the incident.

Phillip's family, however, said they can't see their loved one acting so violently.

"He would help you before he would hurt you. He's the most docile, big teddy bear I know and he has never had a mean streak in him," Hicks said. "The story just didn't jive that he tried to run down a policeman."

"I was just overwhelmed. It still doesn't feel real," said Victoria Armstrong, the mother of Phillip's two children, one of whom had leukemia and passed away last year. "My goodness, he would never do anything to risk not being with my son after losing our daughter. That was his life."

Phillip's parents believe their son was being targeted by police.

Lt. Chaney told FOX 13 Phillip was the subject of a current narcotics investigation before his death, but the officers who pulled him over would not have known that because they are in a different policing unit.

Phillip had also been previously arrested for 22 felonies and served two stints in prison.

"That's totally irrelevant to what happened here," said Phillip's father, Linus Phillip Sr. "So many people have done numerous things worse than that and they're still walking."

John Trevena, an attorney representing Phillip's family, said officers improperly accessed his cell phone by using his fingerprint after his body had already been taken to a funeral home.

"[Police] brought [his] cell phone over -- an iPhone -- and used his fingers in an attempt to try to open up the iPhone using the fingerprint press," Trevena said. "That's disgusting beyond words. It's also illegal and immoral. There's no legal basis for them to be able to do that and they should have gotten a warrant and certainly shouldn't be doing this after the body had been released to the funeral home."

Investigators wouldn't comment on that accusation.

Police said the surveillance video should be available for the family and their attorney within four to six weeks. But Chaney said all the views of the incident are obscured and the shooting can't be seen.

The officer involved in the incident is a seven-year veteran of the department. He was taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries.

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