Angilo Freeland

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Angilo Freeland (1979 – 29 September 2006) was an Antiguan national who was pulled over for speeding in Lakeland, Florida by Polk County Sheriff's Deputy Doug Speirs around noon on September 28, 2006. After giving the officer a fake ID, and the officer called for backup, Freeland (who was armed with a handgun) ran into the woods and hid. A K9 unit responded and the two officers and the dog began searching for Freeland. Freeland shot K9 officer Deputy Vernon "Matt'" Williams 9 times, including one close-range shot into the officer's head and a second shot into the officer's head with the muzzle of the pistol pressed against the victim's skull. Freeland also killed the dog, and then shot Deputy Speirs in the leg when he came to assist his fellow-officer. Freeland took the dead officer's weapon and ammunition and hid in the woods again.[1] [2]

Deputy Speirs notified his dispatcher of the situation and authorities mounted a massive manhunt, including 500 officers, every available police dog, a SWAT armored vehicle and a helicopter. Law enforcement officers searched the woods for Freeland, who came out of the woods once to shoot at the searchers. He was finally cornered by ten SWAT officers the next day. The SWAT team members say that when Freeland pointed his gun at them, they opened fire, shooting Freeland 68 times out of their 110 rounds fired. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd later explained the volume of the fusillade, in response to reporters' questions:

You have to understand, he had already shot and killed a deputy, he had already shot and killed a K-9 and he shot and injured another deputy. Quite frankly, we weren't taking any chances. We were not going to take any chance of him shooting back. [3]

Freeland's family called on Florida Governor Jeb Bush to appoint an independent, unbiased investigator, because they claimed that the Polk County Sheriff's Office, which reviewed the shooting by an internal investigation, was biased due to the murder of Deputy Williams. They argued, based on the number of shots fired and Sheriff Judd's remarks, that the police used too much force and that they should have made more of an effort to take Angilo alive. Joyce Freeland, Angilo's mother stated that "All we want is for all questions surrounding why this happened to be answered." In response, Assistant State Attorney Chip Thullbery stated that "I think their concerns are misplaced. I believe that there will be a thorough investigation of all the incidents and that our office will do a thorough, independent and impartial review of that investigation."[4]

His family claimed Angilo was not involved in any illicit activity. However, his home was the subject of an ongoing drugs and weapons investigation at the time of the shooting. When authorities searched his house, they recovered several firearms including an AK-47, an SKS and a .380-caliber handgun. Police also uncovered a journal in which Freeland wrote about going out "in a moment of Bezerk madness, forcing the enemy to play the end game before it is time."[5]

In December 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) asked the FBI to review the shooting of Freeland after the department received a letter from the Florida Civil Rights Association, which called Freeland's shooting "profoundly disturbing." The FBI subsequently announced they would investigate whether authorities used excessive force in the incident. In June 2008, the DoJ announced it had cleared the Polk County Sheriff's Office of any wrongdoing in the incident, stating: "After careful consideration, we concluded that the evidence does not establish a prosecutable violation of the federal civil rights statutes. Accordingly, we have closed our investigation."[6]

In a news story dated June 14, 2007, Gabrielle Finley of TheLedger.com wrote:

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said today that area law enforcement agencies have arrested 19 people in Orange and Hernando counties who were connected with Angilo Freeland in a street-level drug trafficking operation.

Freeland is the man deputies say shot and killed Deputy Matt Williams and his K-9 DiOGi last September following a traffic stop.

In a press conference today, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said Freeland served as an assassin in the drug operation. Officials suspect him of killing up to 15 people in Latin America for not paying their drug debts. They are unsure if he killed anyone in Florida, but are still investigating that angle.

Freeland was “pure evil in the flesh,” Judd said."[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 68 Bullets by Lynn Waddell and Arian Campo-Flores, Newsweek, October 14, 2006.
  2. ^ Sherriff Judd's Comments - Ammo Dump at Snopes.com.
  3. ^ WSVN TV reports using AP quotes, 30 Sept. 2006
  4. ^ Sheriff's talk angers suspect's family by Abbie Vansickle, The St. Petersburg Times, October 6, 2006.
  5. ^ Police Find Freeland's Journals and Weapons, TheLedger.com, October 6, 2006.
  6. ^ FBI Joins Inquiry in Killing of Suspect By Gabrielle Finley, TheLedger.com, January 18, 2007.
  7. ^ Sheriff: Freeland Was An Assassin By Gabrielle Finley, TheLedger.com, June 14, 2007.