Fla. suspect fatally shot after trying to run over officers

Walter Pacheco
Sentinel Staff Writer

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A late-night encounter with Orange County deputy sheriffs turned deadly Monday for a man they say tried to run them over with a stolen vintage vehicle.

James E. Martin, 40, of Orlando, aimed the stolen 1964 Chevrolet Impala at Deputy Sgts. Luis A. Tabio and Jeff Freeman when they attempted to question him outside a gated condominium complex, the Sheriff's Office said Tuesday.

"One of the deputies fired the fatal shot, but we are unsure who did the shooting at this time," sheriff's spokesman Jim Solomons said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the case, a standard procedure in such shooting cases.

Freeman, 35, and Tabio, 28, were on patrol at 11:38 p.m. Monday in the Conway Road area, between Michigan Street and Curry Ford Road, when they saw a car that matched the description of a stolen vehicle, the Sheriff's Office reported.

The deputies confirmed it was a stolen vehicle and stepped out of their cruiser to interview Martin, who had pulled the two-tone Impala up to the keypad at the closed gates of the Mai Kai Condominium complex off Conway Road. Seconds later, Martin threw the car in reverse. He struck one of the deputies standing near the passenger side of the cruiser, then hit the marked police car and attempted to drive into the other deputy, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The deputies opened fire on Martin, and he crashed through the metal gates and slammed into a palm tree, snapping it in half, Solomons said. Orange County Fire Rescue crews were called, but Martin died at the scene, the report said. Neither deputy was hurt.

Freeman, a deputy for two years, and Tabio, who was hired in August, were placed on administrative duties for at least two weeks, as is the case in all incidents involving the use of deadly force, Solomons said. Sheriff's reports show that Orange resident Scott Saip reported the Impala as stolen Sunday from Martin's father, James Moore. Saip told deputies that Martin had a drug problem and that he probably took the vehicle to a drug area.

According to FDLE records, Martin was released from Okeechobee Correctional Institution on Aug. 17.

He had been in and out of jail during the past decade for a series of crimes, including charges of grand theft, prostitution, kidnapping, false imprisonment, robbery with a deadly weapon and fleeing a law-enforcement officer.

Copyright 2007 The Orlando Sentinel

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