Clearwater police release video of ambush that led to suspect’s death

Pinellas County
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Police released a video Wednesday showing the moment officers opened fire on a suspect during an ambush in Clearwater last month.

At about 2:30 a.m. Dec. 26, police responded to an apartment in the 1400 block of Gulf To Bay Blvd. to check on the welfare of a woman after she reportedly told family members that she was being beaten up by her live-in boyfriend, Wayne Falana, who was armed. 

Police said Falana struck her in the head, knocked her to the ground and kicked her several times. He then retrieved a handgun from his car and threatened her life. 

When police arrived, the woman answered the door and was patted down. Police said Falana, a suspected drug dealer, was aware of their presence due to security cameras he had installed in the residence. The video shows him opens fire from behind her, forcing officers to duck for cover.

One officer was hit in the boot and some bullets went through his clothes, police said. 

Falana, still armed, ran out the front door and was fatally shot by officers. He was hit 16 times, according to Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter. 

Four police officers, identified as officers Michael Spitaleri, Robert Main, Zachery Senter and Steven Buis were placed on administrative leave following the incident. The officers will return to duty this weekend, according to Slaughter. 

The State Attorney’s report released Wednesday concludes the officers committed “justifiable homicide,” Slaughter said. 

The Clearwater Police Department’s criminal investigation is still ongoing. 

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