Sheriff: Suspect hauling stolen equipment shot during struggle with deputy

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A Polk County lieutenant is on paid administrative leave after shooting a suspect during an altercation following a traffic stop Friday.

According to Sheriff Grady Judd, the deputy had pulled over a pickup hauling construction equipment that had been reported stolen from a construction site near Lakeland earlier that day.

While the deputy was talking with the driver of the truck a struggle ensued.


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During the struggle the driver of the truck, later identified as 47-year-old Michael Jeremy Hatfield of Bradenton, attempted to grab the deputy’s gun before trying to drive away.

Judd said the deputy then shot Hatfield once as he drove away.

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Deputies found Hatfield two blocks away sitting in his truck. He was taken into custody and taken to a nearby hospital for a gunshot wound to the hip.

Hatfield remains in the hospital and once released will be booked into the Polk County jail.

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The deputy involved in the shooting, Lt. Laura Rhodes, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

Rhodes has been with the sheriff’s office for 20 years.

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Matt Reeser,

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.