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Breaking News: Officer-Involved Shooting in Haines City, FL

**UPDATE: According to the Polk County Sheriff: One suspect was shot and transported to a local hospital. No law enforcement officers were injured. The incident is being investigated by the 10th Judicial Circuit Officer Involved Deadly Incident Task Force. Suspect 1: Javier Najera, 17 Years Old. Suspect 2: Victor Espinoza-Rodriguez, 19 Years Old.

Haines City, FL – The Haines City Police Department is currently investigating an officer-involved shooting that occurred earlier this evening on US 27 near I-4. This is an active scene, and authorities are diligently working to gather all the details.

Incident Details

  • Location: US 27 near I-4, Haines City, FL

  • Time: Earlier this evening

According to officials with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Haines City Police Department, a 17-year-old was shot by an officer Friday evening after a chase in a stolen car driven by a 19-year-old. Officers found a stolen 2014 Nissan Versa at about 7 p.m. The vehicle had been stolen from Poinciana between Thursday night and Friday morning after a woman left the doors unlocked with the keys inside.

The 19-year-old driver, Victor Espinoza-Rodriguez, took off after police attempted a traffic stop. Police halted the chase after the car entered a densely populated area. After re-emerging, officers re-initiated the chase, which at times reached speeds of 100 mph.

During the pursuit, Espinoza-Rodriguez crashed into two other vehicles. One person in one of the vehicles was recommended to go to a hospital after they complained about pain.

An officer eventually stopped the stolen vehicle with a PIT maneuver. The 17-year-old passenger allegedly reached for a gun, prompting the officer to shoot. The teenager was taken to a hospital for surgery.

Background of Suspects

Victor Espinoza-Rodriguez, of Haines City, has previously been charged with 11 felonies, six misdemeanors, and three violations of probation. A year ago, he was also charged with fleeing to elude law enforcement. The 17-year-old passenger, from Lake Hamilton, has previously been charged with four misdemeanors, a felony, and five violations of probation.

Statements from Authorities

“The officer didn’t choose to shoot at them,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “They chose for the officer to shoot, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Espinoza-Rodriguez, while being treated at a hospital for injuries, reportedly claimed he wasn’t driving. “In addition to the criminal charges, he’s a liar,” Judd said. “And we’ll give him a chance to lie to us some more.” Officers also found a gun, a bong, marijuana, and baggies in the vehicle.
“If anyone tells you this stuff is low-level and non-violent, call them a liar to their face,” Judd added, referencing an ad for an amendment on the Florida ballot to legalize recreational marijuana.

Official Statement

Next Steps

More details about the shooting will be released next week. Authorities are working diligently to piece together the events and ensure the community's safety.

Stayed Tuned to iSkyNews for this developing story.



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