HCSO: Deputy reported hitting trash can; body found in same location

A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputy hit and killed a pedestrian on his way to work at the Orient Road Jail Tuesday.

The deputy knew he hit something and called the dispatch center to report he hit a trash can in the westbound lane of the 800 block of Wheeler Road. But the sheriff’s office said Tuesday afternoon the trash can was actually a pedestrian, who died at the scene.

Deputy Justin Rhodes, 39, is being referred to the Office of the State Attorney for Tuesday morning’s incident.

The sheriff’s office said Rhodes was off-duty and driving his personal vehicle when he hit what he told dispatchers was a garbage can at 6 a.m. He allegedly told dispatchers he got out of his vehicle and saw garbage cans knocked over, but no other signs of property damage. The sheriff’s office said Rhodes told dispatchers his vehicle was damaged, but there was no need to send a deputy.

About 30 minutes later, someone called 911 to report a body in the same area of Wheeler Road. The body was that of a 54-year-old white man, who was dead when crews arrived.

Investigators believe Rhodes hit the man as he was standing near the garbage cans, but they were unsure where the man was standing when he was hit.

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Rhodes is not facing charges, but the investigation is ongoing and the case will be sent to the State Attorney's Office for review.

Rhodes has worked for HCSO since 2004.

An earlier version of this story inaccurately stated Rhodes was involved in the shooting of an unarmed teen.