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St. Pete Cop Fatally Shoots Man who Struggled Over Gun

September 26, 2011  | 

Photo: St. Petersburg PD.
Photo: St. Petersburg PD.
A St. Petersburg (Fla.) Police officer fatally shot a man carrying a pistol who struggled with the officer after a pat-down search revealed the gun.

Officer Ruben DeJesus, a 25-year veteran, was investigating a suspicious vehicle with two fellow officers when the shooting occurred early Monday.

While on patrol, Officer Michael Weiskopf discovered an unoccupied vehicle in the parking area of the city park at the Jungle Prada boat ramp. The park is closed after dark.

Officers DeJesus and Richard Demesmin responded to the scene, after Officer Weiskopf notified dispatchers at 1:42 a.m. that he was checking the vehicle, according to the agency.

The three officers walked down a trail to the shoreline of the bay where they encountered three men who appeared to be drinking alcoholic beverages. The officers questioned two of the men and did a pat-down search of one. Jared Speakman, 18, questioned the officers' authority to detain them.

Officer DeJesus observed the butt of a handgun protruding from Speakman's waistband or his right front pants pocket, and notified his fellow officers of the gun. When the officer grabbed the butt of the gun, Speakman struggled and the two rolled down a small grassy embankement.

During the struggle, Officer DeJesus lost his grip on the gun and Speakman retained the weapon. The officer then drew his duty weapon and fired at Speakman, striking him in the upper body and leg.

Comments (21)

Displaying 1 - 21 of 21

Michael McEntire @ 9/26/2011 5:40 PM

Glad the officer is Ok and his partners are also. Did what you had to do and you went home safe!

Robert Wilson @ 9/26/2011 6:32 PM

We're expected to believe that my cousin, a skinny kid with no history of violence, was a mortal threat to three armed men in uniform? I strongly doubt he actually had, or even owned a gun, but even if he had one, there are many ways to disarm somebody without killing them. According to the police, he wasn't even attempting to harm anybody, he was minding his own business with a friend, a dog and some beers.
According to the details released so far, Mr Dejesus allegedly saw a weapon while Jared was putting down a small dog and immediately grabbed for it. When he was unable to retrieve the weapon from an inebriated kid half his size, he shot him several times. What happened to handling things in a calm, controlled manner? What happened to the nonlethal weapons we hear about, tasers/etc? Are police officers incapable of handling a situation without escalating it out of control?

Mr. Dejesus killed a gentle kid who was no threat to anybody. The story doesn't ever say a gun was drawn by Jared, and yet he was shot multiple times for "questioning the officers' authority."
If Mr. Dejesus is not prosecuted for murdering someone he had sworn to protect and serve, then at the very least he is unfit for his uniform. He has shown that he cannot subdue a 120 pound kid two weeks past his 18th birthday without resorting to lethal force.
Jared was a good kid. Ruben Dejesus is either incompetent or criminal. May God have mercy on both of them.

Patrick @ 9/26/2011 7:43 PM

So sorry the kid had to die. BUT, what was the kid doing in a closed area. Does the kid have the right to carry that gun. Why do people constantly fight and question the police? If I were the kid, the first words out of my mouth would be"Officer, I have a weapon." I am sick of hearing people blame the police for everything. The officer can not read minds, and does not know why this person is there with a gun, and then the person has to resist the police. Next time take the dog to a vet to have him put down. To me it sounds like yet another lame excuse. The police would like to go home safe to their families. People have to have a little more common sense out there, and start taking resposibility for their own actions!

Robert Wilson @ 9/26/2011 8:57 PM

You misunderstand. The dog was perfectly healthy, Jared was holding the dog. When Jared attempted to stop holding the dog, the officer started grabbing at him. This is from the official story released to the media:

If in fact Jared truly had a gun, which is hard to believe, I haven't read anywhere that he attempted to draw it. It doesn't sound like he was given a chance to cooperate, the officer grabbed at him as he was setting the dog down. After the officer failed to get a gun away from him, he shot him multiple times. Did he even have a gun? I haven't seen the picture posted above on any other news stories about this. Nor have I seen mention of police recovering one from his body.
There's no allegations that Jared had a gun pointed at anybody, or even that it was in his hand. In fact, it sounds like the fatal wound was in his back, so he wasn't even facing the officer.(This last bit I haven't been able to confirm or deny from the official sources.)

I don't dispute that officers should protect their own safety, but it is unlikely in the extreme that Jared was actually a threat to anybody, especially not a threat deserving of lethal force. He was quite skinny, probably intoxicated and disoriented (by bright flashlights in his face.)

Philip @ 9/26/2011 9:06 PM

Robert, if you know the first thing about criminal justice then you know that an officer has the right to stop and pat anyone down and if the person is in possession of a deadly weapon, the officer has the right to take the weapon if he is in fear of his life. This kid fought back with the officer when the officer tried to grab the gun. When the officer lost his grip on the gun, his life was immediately in danger. This kid fought for that gun so as far as the officer knew, he was about to be killed. The officer had no other choice but to shoot the kid. Yeah it is sad that this kid had to lose his life over this but he shouldn't have had a gun while he was drinking, underage might I add, and he should not have fought with the officer when he tried to seize the weapon. He should have surrendered the weapon and the officer would not have had any reason to shoot the kid.

Robert Wilson @ 9/26/2011 9:24 PM

Can you cite any sources that Jared made any aggressive moves whatsoever?
According to the cop's own statement, Jared attempted to set down a small dog and the officer saw a weapon and lunged for it. He knocked Jared down, failed to secure the weapon, and then opened fire, striking him multiple times.
I understand that sometimes it is necessary to apply lethal fprce to protect officer safety. So far I haven't read anything would indicate this situation warranted it.

Persephonie @ 9/26/2011 10:10 PM

I knew Jared for almost a year. He didn't diserve this. They decided to shoot him for simply questioning the officers authority. He was too young to loose his life and was an amazing guy. Anyone that knew him had a respect for his honesty and other admirable characteristics. It's just mind boggeling that just for questioning authority he was shot. It's understandable if he had drawn the gun. But he didn't. He just struggled. The officer had the right to take the gun, but he didn't have to end Jared's life. A warning shot would have been effective I'm sure. But he fired multipul times. I wasn't there, so I can't be sure of anything really, but what I am sure of, is that an amazing guy lost his life because of the extreme actions taken. Do I believe he was in the wrong? Yes. Do I think he deserved to loose his life? No.

Ed Santiago @ 9/27/2011 4:20 AM

I work overnight tour also, so the situation this officers faced especially at night, they couldn't wait and see if the kid would point the gun and shoot or raise his hands, the reacted the way they are trained to handle this situations, I faced the barrel of a gun before so I know you just react to the situation, it's a hard reality but if the kid wasn't authorize to carry a concealed weapon he shouldn't have had it with him, why did he carry a weapon?

Officer Taylor @ 9/27/2011 4:23 AM

It is always the same ole same ole MO for people against Police. I am sicking tired of it also. We are out there to do a Job and return home without any Bullet Holes or Stab Wounds. I recently was in this same situation with a Guy in a park 3 days ago after dark. I asked him for ID..He said he couldnt find it while looking in his car. As he opens the Door...I spotted a Firearm in the door panel, along with hand cuffs. Right off the Bat..I ask him to keep his hands up and back away. I retrieved the weapon and asked why he has the weapon. He said he is a current Correction Officer. I said well if your into this field..Dont know you that you need to inform me the Officer immediately next time..Anyways everything turned out fine but that is a situation that can turn ugly very quickly...The moral of the story..If you have ANY KIND of weapon tell the Officer and especially do not resist. This Officer had to do what he had to do to go home safely. Staf Safe & watch your Six

S. Carter @ 9/27/2011 5:12 AM

Mr. Wilson, I have a question. You claim to question that Jared had a gun - if he did not what was he struggling to keep from the officer? Do you mean to say that the officer shot and killed a person just because he argued with him? This cop was a 25 year vetern right? It took 25 years before this character flaw showed up? It is sad that this young man died, he made very poor decisions that night. His poor decisions caused his death. I would like to hear from you a way to disarm a person that works 100% of the time, that our agencies and public will stand behind because if you could I would box it up and be rich.

jwebb714 @ 9/27/2011 6:38 AM

I guess it sucks to be Jared Speakman!

NYSRT @ 9/27/2011 7:02 AM

Robert stop making excuses for your cousin. He screwed up and he got himself killed. He should not have fought with the officers. You say that he was not a threat to three officers in uniform, he had a gun he iwas aTHREAT end of story. The officers were justified in the use of deadly force. This not TV we don't shoot guns out of perps hands. If you have a gun we don't use less leathal weapons.

Janet @ 9/27/2011 7:42 AM

I'm glad the officers are ok and my prayers goes out to the young man's family. But the officers were doing their job. My son has a job that he has him traveling home at 12 or 1 in the morning. There are road blocks/check points going on at night by law enforcement agencies in certain areas. Whenever they stop him, he always tell them I have a gun in my possession. He steps out of his truck and let them search and see his permit. They let him go and tell him to be careful. He has nothing to hide and he has never been arrested or been in any trouble with the law. Just use common sense.

Janet @ 9/27/2011 7:42 AM

I'm glad the officers are ok and my prayers goes out to the young man's family. But the officers were doing their job. My son has a job that he has him traveling home at 12 or 1 in the morning. There are road blocks/check points going on at night by law enforcement agencies in certain areas. Whenever they stop him, he always tell them I have a gun in my possession. He steps out of his truck and let them search and see his permit. They let him go and tell him to be careful. He has nothing to hide and he has never been arrested or been in any trouble with the law. Just use common sense.

John @ 9/27/2011 7:44 AM

"If" he was such a nice kid, why did he have a concealed, and assumed loaded, firearm on his person? The officer was reacting to the gun, and not to the "skinny kid". A gun in anyone's hands can be a lethal weapon. With the three officers recently killed in the line-of-duty by firearms, it would be much more prudent to "shoot first and ask questions later". This officer did the right thing in dealing with an armed and combative subject at !;42 a.m. He did his job and went home to his family at the end of his shift! One less bad guy on the streets makes the community safer for everyone,

Just Me @ 9/27/2011 11:37 AM

Though we will never know the true story, I have known Jared since he was in 2nd grade and he has always been a loving caring boy that would do anything for anybody..The conflicting statements of saw the gun, felt on pat down, the fact that this particular cop has been known to have harrassed Jared since he was a young boy..The proper procedure was not taken and he needs to be held accountable no matter how may years he has been on the force. Handing the dog off and getting lunged at is not proper procedure. So he was drinking underage supposedly, didnt most of us in our younger years. You dont know Jared so dont speak badly of him. just because you all want to believe the cops, they are not always right and not always doing what they are suppose to they just dont get caught !!!

rpb @ 9/28/2011 5:15 AM

That's right, blame the police, better yet let's disband all police agencies and let the law violating citizens run the show. It is unfortunate that the kid got shot however alot of police officers have been killed in similar situations because the hesitated. Closed park area, alcohol, gun sticking out of pocket, looks like trouble to me.

J. Barrett @ 9/28/2011 10:50 AM

Mr. Wilson, if Jared wasn't trying to harm the officers, why did he struggle when the officer went for the gun. Why did he fight with the officer? And most importantly, why was he fighting a police officer, for control of a firearm if he did not intend to use it toward a police officer? For 25 years this officer has dealt with punks, drug addicts, burglars, drunks, and every sort of other delinquent to our society... yet he felt the urge to shoot an innocent kid for no reason. I'm sorry to say it, but I believe your grief has seriously skewed your reasoning. Don't be mad at the officer, be mad at the other two individuals that were with Jared and be mad at Jared for fighting with police officers and illegally carrying a gun while trespassing. I know it is hard to hear this, but you need to man up and look at this situation from the outside. Quit blaming the police, the "man" is not trying to keep you down... time to grown up.

commander1 @ 9/28/2011 12:10 PM

on first review appears officer was within law in using deadly physical force: he used dpf when he had probale cause to believe force was going to be used that would cause a serious physical injury to him or another. rolling around on the ground with a guy that you know is armed with a firearm is more than justified in using dpf. these decisions are made in fractions of a second hard to second guess.

could have been you @ 9/30/2011 2:40 PM

2 best friends and their puppy at the boat ramp trying to figure life out. everybody fishes all night long uses that ramp. kids have gone there for generations. dejesus does know these kids for 10 years he is the bully of the neiborhood. seen them in youth football. did he say GOT A PERMIT FOR THAT GUN JARED? What are the kids going to steal saltwater ? After that man stumbled into the bushes infront of his subordanates with his ego I'm sure he was enraged. could have just asked Jared for the weapon. was there a 3rd kid in the paddle boat with the fishing poles who saw the police comming and left undetected ? no houses near by, where did you go to get away from it all when you were a kid ? oh by the way if a stranger offers you a boatride dont take it. sometimes it doesnt end well. oba chandler and all . this is the same as driving while black, youre here so you must be doing something wrong . I believe in this justice system this is just getting started . quit showing your ignorance about this situation and just say i wasnt there but it is a terrible situation for everyone. hopefully their will be one less bad guy with a gun on the street and they better take his badge away too.

sharon @ 10/11/2011 2:53 PM

Just take this article and any article that you have read and go to the site. It doesn't match the story. And if this incident is not an incident in question than why did the police department altering the site where this all happened. Take the picture you see in this article and physically compare it to the site. It is all there. Jared was innocent the cop Dejesus is not and he should be punish for that. He stole an innocent life.

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