Clearwater officers cleared after deadly December shootout

The State Attorney’s Office has cleared eight Clearwater police officers who responded to a commercial business searching for a domestic violence suspect.  Four of the officers who responded shot and killed him.

Newly-released video from Dec. 26 shows what happened after they arrived at the business on Gulf to Bay Boulevard in Clearwater, Florida, where a woman reported her boyfriend was beating her.

They wound up shooting and killing 35-year-old Wayne Falana shortly after 2 in the morning.

Clearwater Chief of Police Daniel Slaughter says three officers came within inches of being hit by gunfire. The state attorney made it clear these officers did what they had to do.

Police say Wayne Falana was living in the business with his girlfriend, Annie Van, when they were called.

“He struck her in the head, knocked her to the ground, kicked her several times,” Chief Slaughter recalled of the incident.

As soon as she came outside, there was gunfire and chaos.

“The good instinct of Sgt. Dawe who was in the back, to not go in that door was probably a very wise decision,” Slaughter said.

Eleven seconds later, officers in the front, facing Gulf to Bay, were dodging gunfire from the window.

“Officer Main reports feeling a bullet go by him so closely that he thinks he is grazed or scratched, so he is having another officer make sure he’s not hit,” Slaughter said.

As they fired back, Falana kicked through the shattered window and rans toward the officers. The police chief said they had to continue shooting. The state attorney agreed, saying they had every reason to be in fear for their lives.

Falana, after firing 13 bullets, was hit 16 times.

“This is a residential community. The last thing we are going to allow is a person who has already tried to kill police officers, who has already threatened to kill this female, allow him to go in there and kill other people in some form of rampage,” Slaughter said.

The officers involved will soon return to regular duty.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly referenced the number of officers who opened fire. This version of the story has been updated.