LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — A Lakeland man was shot by six officers late Thursday night after police say he fired a gun in the air, pointed it at neighbors and then moved toward officers.
Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens told News Channel 8 that neighbors called 911 around 8:43 pm complaining about Jerry Roach, 71, of 726 West Crescent Drive.
When police arrived, Giddens said Roach was inside his house and refused to come out.
Officers set up a perimeter and evacuated neighbors while negotiators made contact with Roach via phone. Giddens said Roach refused to come out peacefully.
“During the last phone conversation with negotiators, he said he was coming out and officers would have to kill him,” he said. “He made statements that he was bringing his shotgun with him, even though numerous requests for him to exit the residence unarmed had been made by our negotiators.”
Giddens said that around 10:52 pm, immediately after that conversation, Roach came out with a shotgun and moved toward the officers. Officers gave multiple commands to drop his weapon and Giddens said when he did not, six officers simultaneously shot Roach.
They performed lifesaving measures and Roach was taken to Lakeland Regional Health where he was pronounced dead at 11:20 pm.
Roach’s daughter Angie Bell says she is heartbroken.
“I feel devastated. I can’t believe it happened. My heart is crushed. That was my daddy,” Bell said.
Giddens said officers had been called to Roach’s home eight times previously, though he was not specific about the timeframe over which those calls occurred.
Bell acknowledged that Roach had an ongoing dispute with neighbors. She claims they taunted her father and he would say ‘not very nice things’ in return, but she said she never expected it to go this far. Bell blamed Lakeland Police for not doing more when her father called law enforcement in the past for help.
“I’m disgusted with the Lakeland Police Department. If they would’ve done something a long time ago, maybe it would not have gone this far,” Bell told WFLA.
Officers will be placed on administrative leave which is standard procedure. The state attorney with the 10th judicial circuit will investigate the shooting.
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