A Clearwater Police officer who shot back at a suspect who opened fire during a foot chase is justified for using deadly force, an investigation by the State Attorney's office found.
Officer Karl Wassmer shot Julius Larrance during a foot chase at the Palmetto Park Apartments July 25, members from the State Attorney's Office were on scene to investigate the incident later that day.
The State Attorney investigation also included Clearwater Police and Pinellas County Sheriff's Office reports, reviews of photos and communications of the incident, autopsy report and interviews with the Criminal Investigation Division.
"As a result of the investigation conducted by my office, I have determined that Officer Karl Wassmer was in the lawful performance of his legal duty while attempting to arrest Julias (sic) Larrance on outstanding warrants," State Attorny Bernie McCabe wrote in a letter Monday regarding the investigation. "Officer Wassmer had reason to believe Julias (sic) Larrance, in his use of the firearm, posed a threat of death of serious injury to himself and others present in the area."
McCabe also wrote that by pointing a gun and firing it at Wassmer, Larrance was in commission of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer and aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer.
The Clearwater Police Administrative Review Board also found Wassmer was justified in his use of deadly force. Wassmer, a 13-year veteran, can return to full duty immediately.
Larrance, 19, fled when Wassmer, 46, and officer Lauren Josey approached him, believing he might be a wanted suspect. That is when Larrance opened fire and Wassmer returned it.
Larrance had an active warrant for a hit and run and also was wanted for questioning in connection with a lewd and lascivious incident in Clearwater and a double murder in Tampa, according to police.
After a chase through the complex, Larrance barricaded himself inside an apartment.
A resident and two children were in the apartment when Larrance went in through the unlocked front door, according to Watts. The resident quickly left with the children through the back of the apartment.
Responding officers tried to make contact with Larrance and later entered the apartment to find him lying on the floor with a handgun near his hand.
Paramedics were called in to render aid to Larrance, and he was pronounced dead inside the apartment, Watts said.