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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Suspect fatally shot during arrest attempt

10-1-2004 Florida:
RIVERVIEW - It was still dark Thursday morning when Madeline Grimes and her daughter April heard the two detectives across the street shout:

"He's got a gun! He's got a gun!"

Then, Grimes heard five shots pierce the quietness of her neighborhood of big, towering trees and modest homes.

Later, she would learn that a veteran Hillsborough sheriff's detective fatally shot her neighbor John Stanley Lewis, who is accused of possessing child pornography. According to the Sheriff's Office, Lewis pointed a gun at detectives and refused to drop it.

"We have a very peaceful neighborhood, and this is just the kind of thing you see on the news," Grimes, 56, said with tears in her eyes. "I don't like to witness somebody die like that."

Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Rod Reder said detectives Albert Padron, 44, and David Atkinson, 42, went to Lewis' home at 8202 Oakwilde St. about 6 a.m. to pick up Lewis, who was wanted by the State Attorney's Office on 30 counts of Internet child pornography.

The detectives knocked and identified themselves, Reder said. Lewis was carrying a gun when he came out to his screened porch, which was dark because the street is still without power following Hurricane Frances.

"He's aiming it at the detectives, and he wouldn't put the gun down," Reder said. "So Detective Padron fired several times."

Reder said Padron has been trained to use a Taser, a device that shoots aggressive subjects with jolts of electricity. He said he didn't know if Padron was carrying a Taser at the time of the confrontation, but said, "I don't expect we'd rely on the Taser for people who are pointing guns at us."

Lewis, 55, died on his porch while his wife and three dogs were inside the one-story home.

Padron, a 20-year veteran with only minor blemishes in his personnel history, is on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated, Reder said.

Lewis' death comes just four months after he tried to commit suicide following an arrest on one count of lewd and lascivious molestation of a 13-year-old girl, according to State Attorney's Office spokeswoman Pam Bondi. Lewis was arrested May 26 and released the same day after posting a $15,000 bail. During the Memorial Day weekend, Lewis went to a Tampa motel and shot himself in the head, Bondi said.

He survived, and prosecutors in July decided not to pursue the case because the teenager refused to cooperate, Bondi said.

Reder said a search warrant obtained for that May arrest led to the 30 pornography counts filed last week by the State Attorney's Office.

Detectives seized a digital camera and computer from Lewis' home and sent them to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's computer crimes analysts in Tampa. The analysts found evidence of child pornography, Reder said.

Neighbor Debi Wilson said Lewis and his wife moved to the neighborhood about four years ago. She said she didn't know him well, but said they sometimes chatted when Lewis was out walking his three dogs.

"He seemed to me like a nice person until that whole thing came down," Wilson said, referring to the lewd and lascivious charge filed in May. "The day before yesterday was the first day I saw him since he shot himself. Oh, you should have seen the scars on his face."

Florida criminal records show the May arrest was Lewis' first here. He has lived in Hillsborough County for several years, and before that he lived in Texas.

He worked at an envelope-making company, Silver Envelope, in Tampa. But Wilson said the company owner recently died, and Lewis has been worried about his job future.

April Grimes, 29, is a dispatcher for the Sheriff's Office. When she heard detectives yell that Lewis had a gun, she pulled her mother Madeline inside their house.

"He pointed that gun because he wanted to be shot," the younger Grimes said. "That was suicide by cop. You point a gun at a deputy, you get shot."

Padron, a graduate of Jefferson High School, joined the Sheriff's Office as a jail deputy in 1984 after a short stint in the Air Force and work as a personal trainer at a gym. He became a street deputy in 1989. In 1995, he became a detective.

In 1990, Padron was one of several deputies involved in a shootout with bank robbers who came from Orlando and hit a Thonotosassa bank, then fired dozens of rounds at deputies' cars. One of the suspects was killed, one was paralyzed and two were arrested, Reder said. Padron was cleared in that shooting investigation, and it was never determined which deputies' bullets hit the suspects.

Padron's personnel file has numerous commendations from supervisors and Hillsborough residents. Recently, he received commendations for helping arrest three violent felons and for his role in apprehending two suspects accused of trying to kill law enforcement officers.

Padron had one written reprimand in 1992 for failing to establish probable cause in a Baker Act case. In 1990, he was suspended for a day after failing to show up for traffic court.

In his annual evaluations, supervisors described Padron as "hardworking," "experienced," "very knowledgeable" and "a team player." ..more.. by SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER

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