January 18, 1995 |
St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment|
|Criminal status||Incarcerated at the Lee County Jail in Ft. Myers, FL|
|Parent(s)||Nicholas Lindsey, Sr., Deneen Sweat|
|Conviction(s)||Murder in the first degree of a LEO|
Nicholas Lindsey was a youth with a troubled past. According to records, Lindsey has a prior record for non violent crimes such as grand theft and trespassing.
Classmates described him as quiet and "a typical teen". "He was a good person," said a classmate, "quiet and didn't really talk to no one, only spoke with his friends, people he knew."
Although he attended school on the day of the shooting, he had missed 40 days during the school year. Gibbs High School Former Principal Kevin Gordon spoke with Lindsey about cutting class. The principal and his reading intervention teacher said the teenaged suspect always complied with authority. One teacher, Karen Morse, stated that he was a typical teen who would "strive for that teacher attention to do his best." Off campus, Lindsey appeared to be a different kid. Lindsey's Facebook page showed he had a gang name.
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster recognized Lindsey when he saw the mugshot. He met with the teen inside his home during a 2010 Outreach the Community event. It was after his first arrest of grand theft. Foster said that the teen impressed him the most and had a goal to succeed in life. Foster went on to say he wanted Lindsey tried as an adult.
Murder of Officer David Crawford
On February 21, 2011, officer David Crawford, 46, was responding to a call of a suspicious person near the Tropicana Field late that night. The caller stated that a man was holding a brick in his back yard then jumped the fence. The caller thought he might be a burglar. Officer Crawford arrived to the area and spotted the person then got out of his vehicle. At 10:37 p.m., Donald J. Ziglar, a fellow officer, noticed and reported an exchange of gunfire. Ziglar found Crawford lying near his cruiser, police stated. He was shot multiple times at close range after reaching for a notepad. More than 200 officers from different agencies across Tampa Bay poured into the city to take part in the massive manhunt for the suspect.
On the night of February 22, 2011, the search came to a quick end. After raiding a home, they arrested 16-year-old Nicholas Lindsey after receiving tips from the community. Lindsey originally offered different accounts of the events, but eventually admitted information that conformed with the evidence police had already gathered said St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon. Police also stated "he broke down and cried" and that Lindsey threw the gun in a nearby creek. He was booked into the Pinellas Juvenile Assessment Center.
Lindsey's mother, Deneen Sweat told the St. Petersburg Times she suspected her son may have been involved in the shooting after she heard the description of the suspect. "I told my son, man up and tell what happened." Deneen Sweat told WFTS. Sweat was with her son when he confessed to police.
The shooting garnered multiple emotions from the public. Questions on how a 16-year-old could obtain a gun emerged as well as the need for Nicholas Lindsey to be tried as an adult. Law enforcement took the death exceptionally hard. Crawford was described as a family man who loved horses, people and enjoyed working the night shift. He left behind a wife and a 24-year-old daughter.
|“||My thoughts and prayers remain with the family and loved-ones of Officer Crawford during this extremely difficult time. I am hopeful that they might find some relief knowing that a suspect has been identified and is behind bars.||”|
|— Florida governor Rick Scott, |
It added to an already grief-stricken community. Two St. Petersburg officers died and a U.S. marshal was wounded on January 24, 2011 in a gunfight with a Hydra Lacy, the brother of local boxer Jeff Lacy. The shooter in that case was also killed. St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster told HLN that the city will do more to teach young people that the consequences of a "bad decision" will last a lifetime.
|“||No one prepares the city for the devastating losses we've seen this month. We're holding together with a lot of prayer, faith ... and dependence on each other.||”|
|— St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, |
Crawford was laid to rest in a locally televised ceremony on March 1. About 10,000 people, inside and outside of the church, attended.
Official indictment and trial
On March 7, 2011, Lindsey was indicted by a grand jury on a murder in the first degree charge. He was moved to the Pinellas County Jail where he is housed with other juveniles facing adult charges. Under Florida law juveniles awaiting trial cannot be in sight or sound of the adult population.
Trial was for December 12, 2011 but later moved to March 2012. Convicted of the murder, Lindsey would likely spend the rest of his life in state prison because of Florida's Law Enforcement Protection Act. He cannot be sentenced to death per a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits people from being executed for crimes committed while under 18.
On December 2, 2011, Judge Thane Covert ruled that Lindsey's taped confession will be admissible at trial citing that the manner in which the police officers obtained the confession was credible. Lindsey, with his parents in the interview room, had confessed to police that he killed Mr. Crawford. The defense argued that Lindsey's parents urged their son to confess by suggesting that he may receive leniency if he did. Covert also granted a motion for another trial date as defense attorney Frank McDermott stated that he would not be able to be prepared in such a short amount of time. Trial was removed from the December 12 date and replaced with a pretrial hearing. Covert said he will schedule pretrial hearings every three weeks which is something he typically does when a case of his moves slowly.
On December 12, 2011, Judge Covert set the trial for March 19, 2012.
Jury selection began on March 19, 2012, with testimony beginning the next day. Lindsey's defense team's strategy was to convince the jury that manslaughter took place. They portrayed Lindsey as a scared youth, while prosecutors, including Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe, portrayed this as an intentional murder of a law enforcement officer by mentioning the fact that he shot Crawford five times and did not miss a bullet. On March 23, Lindsey was convicted of Crawford's murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in state prison.
In October 2013, Lindsey's life sentence was upheld in court after an appeal.
On January 20, 2017, Lindsey's attorney's requested to have his sentence reduced to 40 years however on January 27, 2017, Lindsey's life sentence was confirmed and was stated by the judge that the sentence would be reviewed in 2036 after 25 years served.
- Landeros, Phil (February 23, 2011). "Police arrest 16-year-old suspect in officer shooting". WTSP. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
- Tataris, Anna (February 23, 2011). "Classmates and teachers of accused teen gunman describe him as 'quiet'". CF News. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Leibowitz, Barry (February 22, 2011). "St. Petersburg police officer David Crawford shot dead, city's third cop killed in weeks". CBS. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Staff (February 23, 2011). "Police: Teen confesses to fatal shooting of St. Petersburg officer". CNN. Archived from the original on January 20, 2012. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Thalji, Jamal; Krueger, Curtis; Nipps, Emily; Stanley, Kameel (February 22, 2011). "Suspect arrested in slaying of St. Petersburg police Officer David Crawford". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- "Teen accused of killing officer held without bail". MSNBC. February 23, 2011. Retrieved 2017-01-11 – via Associated Press.
- Hopper, Jessica (February 23, 2011). "Father of Florida Teen Issues Tearful Apology for Son's Alleged Killing of Police Officer". ABC News. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Staff (January 10, 2011). "2 officers killed, man found dead after shootout inside Florida home". CNN. Archived from the original on January 27, 2011. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Lanning, Jason (March 1, 2011). "Officers honor one of their own again". Bay News 9. Archived from the original on March 4, 2011. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Gregory, Holly (March 7, 2011). "Grand jury indicts Nicholas Lindsey in officer shooting". Bay News 9. Archived from the original on September 4, 2011. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- "Teen to be tried as adult in officer's shooting". Fox News. March 7, 2011. Retrieved 2017-01-10 – via Associated Press.
- "Florida Law Enforcement Protection Act - Statute 782.065". leg.state.fl.us. Florida Legislature. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- "Accused cop killer appears in court Tuesday". Bay News 9. June 28, 2011. Archived from the original on August 4, 2011. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Gregory, Holly. "December trial date for suspected St. Pete cop killer Nicholas Lindsey". CF News. Retrieved 2017-01-10.[dead link]
- "Florida Statute on murder of a LEO". leg.state.fl.us. Florida Legislation. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Krueger, Curtis (December 3, 2011). "Lindsey's confession can be used at murder trial". St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on February 8, 2012. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Krueger, Curtis (December 12, 2011). "Teen's trial set for March in police officer killing". St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Krueger, Curtis; Thalji, Jamal (March 24, 2012). "Lindsey verdict: Guilty of first-degree murder". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Burrage, Gregg (October 11, 2013). "Life sentence upheld for Nicholas Lindsey, convicted of shooting St. Petersburg police officer". ABC. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- Pittman, Craig; McNeill, Claire. "Nicholas Lindsey, sentenced to life for killing copy, loses bid for shorter sentence". The Ledger. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
- Staff (January 27, 2017). "St. Pete cop killer's life sentence confirmed". WTSP. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
- Morel, Laura (January 27, 2017). "Nicholas Lindsey, killer of St. Petersburg police officer, again sentenced to life in prison". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2017-01-28.