State attorney to decide whether to file charges in teen’s shooting death at Tampa police officer’s home

Hillsborough County

TAMPA (WFLA) – The Hillsborough County Sheriff Office says it’s finished its investigation into the shooting death of a teen at a Tampa officer’s home.

Now its investigation is in the hands of the State Attorney’s Office.

15-year-old James ‘Bradley’ Hulett, was shot and killed at a friend’s home in Lithia in December.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, four teens were in the house when James Hulett was shot. The teen was transported to Brandon Regional Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. Police have not made any arrests in the case, as the investigation remains open.

“No one could fathom or understand what this family is going through,” the Hulett family attorney Anthony Rickman told 8 On Your Side.

Rickman said the family wants answers about what exactly happened in the TPD officer’s home, but said they are willing to wait while the state attorney’s office decides if someone is criminally liable for the teen’s death.

“And if the facts justify that, then we anticipate prosecution occurring for somebody in that home,” Rickman told 8 On your Side, “whether it be the person who pulled the trigger or whether it be the person who stored the firearm.”

All of the boys at the scene of the shooting attend the same school as Ava Hulett– Newsome High School.

James’ sister Ava addressed the Hillsborough County School Board on Wednesday, telling them she could no longer attend the same school as her brother’s “murderers.”

“Some of the boys involved are still not making statements to the police and attend Newsome High School,” Ava Hulett told the school board. “I was forced to walk past them in the hallway, watching the kid who pulled the trigger make out with his girlfriend. Seeing their faces.”

She said seeing them gives her panic attacks and she had to leave school.

“My brother and family are victims, yet everyone is treating the people that brought the pain on us like they are the victims and they deserve support,” she said.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister released an update regarding the investigation Thursday afternoon:

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has completed its investigation into the tragic death of a young victim from a gunshot that took place on December 13, 2019 in the FishHawk Ranch community. Our investigation consisted of a complete crime scene analysis, review from the medical examiner, discussions with the victim’s family, social media analysis, and a ballistics analysis. We have patiently, but persistently, waited for the other teenagers involved in this incident to provide statements to our investigating detectives. All three of the teenagers who were present the night of this shooting retained lawyers immediately following the incident. Only two of the three have spoken to our investigators, and the most recent of those statements happened just days ago. The homeowner, a Tampa Police Officer, has through his attorney provided limited information to our detectives. All involved, of course, have the right to counsel, but this limitation has prolonged the investigation as we have tried to determine how this young man died on the evening of December 13th. Despite these many hurdles, our investigators have worked swiftly and diligently to ensure that all evidence available is considered.

Earlier today, our detectives presented all of the available evidence to the State Attorney’s Office. The State Attorney’s Office will ultimately determine the next steps and who will be prosecuted as a result of this tragedy. Because this remains an open investigation, we are not able to provide the facts our detectives have discovered. Our criminal justice system works best when our detectives and prosecutors are free to conduct a thorough and complete review of every fact, every witness statement, and every issue in a case. The same is true in this instance. While many have called for swift justice and quick criminal action, it has taken time to uncover the facts about how this death occurred. 

We at the Sheriff’s Office believe that anyone handling a gun should behave with the presumption that the gun is loaded. We believe that all responsible gun owners should take steps to secure weapons beyond the reach of anyone, especially children and teenagers. Had those steps been taken that night, this tragedy would likely not have happened. 

Incidents like these do not lend themselves to soundbites or our social media driven culture. These are complicated cases that require an in-depth understanding of what took place. This young victim’s family deserves our empathy and frankly a better world. In this fallen world, the best we can do is find a path to justice and hopefully within that justice some comfort of peace.” 
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister 

The Tampa Police officer was on duty and not home at the time of the shooting. All three teens who were present during the shooting have retained lawyers.

Only two of the teens have spoken to investigators.

“While this investigation has taken quite a bit of time, they understand the sheriff’s office was limited in what they had,” Rickman said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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