TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Prosecutors have declined to press charges against two Tampa police officers who shot and killed an armed robbery suspect in October.
Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren said the two officers won’t face charges in the Oct. 20 shooting death of 26-year-old Dominique Mulkey.
Police said the two officers showed up at the Dollar General store after employees called 911 to report an armed robbery. The workers said Mulkey had stole some food and pulled out a gun.
The officers found Mulkey a few blocks away with the gun and a bag full of items.
Body camera video of the incident shows the officers order Mulkey to get on the ground and to drop his gun several times, but he ignored their pleas. Mulkey can be seen turning around and facing the officers. Police said he raised his hand and pointed a gun in their direction, which prompted both officers to open fire.
An autopsy shows Mulkey was shot in the head and his left elbow and torso. Police said the officers fired a total of 42 rounds—33 by one, and nine by the other—in the span of 15 seconds.
Both officers were placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard protocol for police-involved shootings. Their names are being withheld in compliance with Marsy’s Law.
“Following an extensive review, our office has concluded that there is no legal basis to file charges against either of the two Tampa Police Department officers who fatally shot 26-year-old Dominique Mulkey on October 20, 2020,” Warren said in a press release Tuesday.
Mulkey had an intellectual disability and a history of mental illness, according to family members.
“He doesn’t have the wherewithal. He doesn’t have the cognitive thought to say, well okay, I’m gonna run with the gun in my hand. He doesn’t have that,” Mulkey’s stepfather, Robert Smith, told 8 On Your Side in October.
Activist Michelle Williams said Mulkey was hard of hearing, and wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. She said he likely robbed the store because he was hungry.
“What he went into that store for was food. He filled a black garbage bag full of food and snacks to eat,” said Williams. “Dominique was hard of hearing and deaf, so from behind, he would never have heard the commands of the police.”
Prosecutors said other family members have come forward to share details of his difficult childhood, including his time in foster care.
“While the statements from family members provide valuable facts that may explain Mulkey’s life prior to his encounter with Tampa Police on October 20, 2020, under the law, this information is not relevant to the legal determination,” Warren’s press release stated. “Moreover, none of this information was known to the two patrol officers who encountered Mulkey on the morning of the armed robbery at the Dollar General store.”
Warren said the two officers “rightfully perceived an imminent deadly threat and responded.”
“Every life is precious, which is why we must uphold the highest standard when deadly force is used. This situation is tragic, but the law is clear—when an officer or anyone else has a gun pointed at them, they are allowed to defend themselves; here, they had no other choice,” he added.
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