Pinellas cemetery owner sues FHP & trooper who shot him - WFLA News Channel 8

Pinellas cemetery owner sues FHP & trooper who shot him

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Royal Palm Cemetery in Pinellas Park Royal Palm Cemetery in Pinellas Park
A dashboard camera captured the shooting A dashboard camera captured the shooting
The shed where the shooting occurred The shed where the shooting occurred
HERNANDO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - Royal Palm Cemetery owner Clifford Work has filed a pair of lawsuits against the Florida Highway Patrol and State Trooper Daniel Cole alleging trooper Cole acted with "gross negligence" when he shot Work in the thigh while investigating a stolen vehicle.

That shooting happened before the break of dawn on September 10, 2012 when Cole drove his patrol care to investigate a Lo jack signal coming from a stolen motorcycle someone had ditched in some nearby woods.

Work had been sleeping in a work shed and opened the door with a pistol in his hand when Cole opened fire with his assault rifle after mistaking him for an armed criminal. In his lawsuit Work says he had no warning that an FHP trooper and several officers from the Pinellas Park Police Department were outside of the building when he opened the door expecting to find vandals outside.

According to the lawsuits filed on behalf of Work, Cole fired 18 rounds at Work from his laser-sighted AR-15 in seven seconds, striking Work once in the thigh. Work did not return fire and collapsed in the doorway.

Work's lawsuits say he suffered disfigurement and ongoing severe pain and suffering from his bullet wound after enduring several surgeries and post-operative infections.

The suits alleges the trooper's actions in the dark that morning were "rushed, flawed and without reasonable thought."

An FHP internal investigation and an inquiry by the Pinellas State Attorney's Office last year cleared Cole of any wrongdoing.

The lawsuits ask for a jury trial and allege that Cole violated a number of Work's civil rights the morning he trespassed on Work's cemetery and shot him.

FHP Spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins said no one at his agency can comment on the matter due to pending litigation.

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