Police investigate a high-speed car chase that led to an officer-involved shooting in Haines City

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Haines City Police and Polk County Sheriff’s Office said a 17-year-old boy who allegedly reached for a gun in a stolen car Friday night is in critical condition after being shot by a Haines City police officer.


Polk County Sheriff Grady Jude joined Haines City police Chief Gregory Goreck for a news conference Friday night to discuss a vehicle pursuit that led to an officer-involved shooting.

Around 7 p.m. on Friday, a Haines City police officer located a 2014 Nissan Versa that had been reported stolen in the last 24 hours.

The officers followed the car for a short distance until backup arrived and tried to conduct a traffic stop.

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“It’s very important to understand that at this point, the people driving that vehicle could have ended this and stopped this by pulling over and doing the right thing. They chose instead to flee,” Goreck said.

Goreck said that after a short distance, the Nissan struck another vehicle on U.S. Highway 27 in Polk City Road, and the pursuit led to a significantly populated area.

The Police Chief said a nearby deputy was ready to deploy stop sticks from the side of the road. The car then drove on the grass and over the stop sticks as the Haines City officers continued the pursuit.

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The Nissan then emerged back onto Highway 27 and reached speeds of up to 100 mph northbound on Highway 27. At one point, the Nissan hit another car before the Haines City officer requested permission to perform a precision immobilization technique maneuver, Goreck said.

The PIT left the Nissan on the shoulder of the road, where officers could now approach the car.

“During that encounter, my officer was forced to engage .... with the suspect and had to fire his firearm. The suspect was reaching for a firearm, and the suspect was immobilized and was able to be taken into custody. That was the passenger in the vehicle. The driver was also taken into custody,” Goreck said.

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At the news conference, Judd said the Polk County Sheriff’s Office was leading the investigation.

The driver of the car was 19-years-old, and the passenger who was shot was 17-years-old.

“They should be just kids one just graduating from high school and the other may be preparing to graduate from high school but that’s not what you have here,” Judd said.

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Judd said the 19-year-old has gang-affiliated tattoos and already has 11 felony charges, six misdemeanors and three probation violations.

The 17-year-old had four misdemeanors, a felony and five probation violations.

Judd said the 17-year-old was in emergency surgery at the time of the news conference.

The sheriff’s office said the officers who responded were not injured.

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Beatriz Oliveira, WFTV.com

Beatriz Oliveira is a Content Creator for WFTV.com.

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