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#252127 - 05/09/06 04:24 PM Local News
Fletch1 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/21/04
Posts: 2218
Loc: Florida
Officer on leave as police probe shooting
Reports say rookie Horowitz fired at suspect driving stolen SUV after he ignored her commands

By Aisling Swift (Contact)

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

A rookie Naples police officer who shot a 21-year-old suspect driving a stolen SUV remained on paid leave Monday as authorities continued to investigate the weekend shooting in East Naples.

Investigators with the Collier County Sheriff's Office questioned Carmen J. Bongiovanni, 1080 Holland Drive, North Fort Myers, late Monday afternoon as part of their investigation into Naples Police Officer Anna S. Horowitz's actions, said Kristin Adams, a sheriff's spokeswoman. County investigators are handling the case because the shooting occurred past the city limits and further information was not available Monday afternoon.

Bongiovanni was shot twice around 7:50 p.m. Saturday while inside a stolen car he had crashed through bushes at 1800 Holiday Lane, said Naples police, who arrested him on a grand theft auto charge. He remained at Lee County Memorial Hospital on Monday. His condition was unavailable.

It wasn't the first time Bongiovanni had been caught stealing a vehicle. Lee County Sheriff's Office records show he was out on $5,000 bond on pending charges of vehicle theft and burglary.

The shooting occurred while he was on probation on other charges. On March 14, he was sentenced in Lee County Circuit Court to two years' probation for trafficking in stolen property in a case that initially involved a grand theft charge, Florida Department of Law Enforcement records say. His adult arrest record began in Lee County with a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge in 2004.

PODCAST: Hear an in-depth report about a shooting involving a Naples police officer.
AUDIO: Helyne Gans, who lives near where the shooting occurred
VIDEO: Watch Studio 55's video report
RELATED: Authorities investigate shooting involving officer (05-07-06)
Horowitz, 24, was placed on paid administrative leave, a normal procedure in a shooting, and will return once the investigation is complete, said Naples Police Lt. Jon Maines, the department's spokesman. He said a video from Horowitz's patrol car showing the events leading up to the shooting is part of the probe.

Police said Horowitz fired after Bongiovanni ignored her commands.

Horowitz's personnel file shows she was hired Aug. 8, earns $41,772 a year and completed her eight-month probationary period last month. She has a clean record with the department and underwent training at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, where she received her certificate from the Law Enforcement Academy on June 23, 2004, and an associate's degree in criminology on Aug. 18, 2005.

She passed her most recent firearms qualification test in February, an exam that requires officers to hit a target 32 out of 40 times from distances of three yards, seven yards and 15 yards, Maines said.

The events leading up to the shooting began Saturday, when Terancia Almonor of Osprey's Landing in Naples, left a sport utility vehicle idling at 7:20 p.m. outside the Kwik Pik convenience store at 499 Goodlette-Frank Road, police said. She called 911 to report she saw a man hop inside her boyfriend's SUV and speed off, Maines said.

Police alerted officers to be on the lookout for the 2002 Toyota SUV. About 15 minutes later, Horowitz, who was watching cars leaving the city limits near the Olive Garden restaurant on Fifth Avenue South, spotted the SUV, police said. She began pursuing it eastbound, police said, and it turned onto Estey Avenue, where Bongiovanni continued driving well over the 30 mph speed limit.

Maines said he did not know at what point Horowitz put on her lights or siren. Bongiovanni lost control of the SUV and crashed through hedges at 1800 Holiday Lane, where Albert Demange was watching TV in a small yellow ranch he rents.

"I heard loud screeching and a crash and ran out the front door," the 31-year-old Demange said as he stood outside his home Monday afternoon, where there was a gaping hole in the 6-foot hedge that separated his front lawn from the street.

The SUV crashed through the hedge, he said, and veered left through another hedge separating his home from his neighbor's at 1820 Holiday Lane, he said. It then hit a parked pickup on the other side of the hedge, halting the SUV. Demange said Horowitz, who stood behind the SUV, yelled at Bongiovanni.

"She said if you try to run me over, I'm going to shoot," Demange said. "He was reversing and going forward and trying to rock it out."

Then the officer stood diagonally behind the driver's side door and fired at Bongiovanni, Demange said. "It was like boom, boom," he said, adding that she paused before the second bullet.

"When she fired the first shot, I ran to my front door and it was locked," he said, so he ran inside through a side door, fearing Bongiovanni also might have a gun. His girlfriend, Ashley Blair, 21, heard the shots and had run into a closet to hide, unaware police were involved in the shooting, he said.

When Demange returned outside, more officers had arrived. "They broke the back window and side window and got in back, shouting, 'Show me your hands,' "he said.

Bongiovanni shouted back, saying he was bleeding, Demange said, and an officer replied: "You're going to bleed more if you don't show me your hands."

"They pulled him out," he said, pointing to blood that remained on the grass. "He was yelling, 'Stop pulling me.' When they let him go, he keeled over."

He heard officers call EMS to say one bullet exited Bongiovanni and one remained inside. He said he was shot in the back. "He just missed that tree," Demange said, pointing to a tree in his front yard next to the hedges. "It could have been worse. Luckily, everybody is alive."

Officers also pulled a small, handicapped man out of the SUV, he said. Maines said Bongiovanni had picked the man up sometime before Horowitz began her pursuit. Authorities did not release information on the passenger.

On Monday, a pile of brush sat on a sidewalk outside Demange's yellow ranch, next to the damaged bushes. Two small trees were bent over next to the hedge. Next door, long skidmarks were on the driveway next to a white Toyota Tundra pickup, which had large dents in the driver's side door.

A woman who answered the door at 1820 Holiday Lane, a small ranch with an attached guest house, said the owner of the pickup was asleep. She had heard the crash and shooting, but didn't want to comment.

Maines said police department guidelines say officers can shoot at a moving vehicle if they are in danger.

"We're taught to give them clear instructions on what we want them to do," Maines said of suspects. "You have to feel either your life is in imminent danger or someone else's is. ... We're taught to shoot at center mass, basically the biggest part of the target, and we're shooting to stop the threat."

Officers involved in shootings undergo a critical stress debriefing, he said, and can go to a peer support group to discuss the emotional needs of officers.

#252128 - 05/10/06 12:49 AM Re: Local News [Re: Fletch1]
JoelM Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 6355
Loc: Georgia, USA
That's one of the most in-depth articles I've ever seen on a police incident. I mean, the officer's salary, hire date, education background, geez.

Normally I'm one of the first to side with the cops, but my question here is if "Then the officer stood diagonally behind the driver's side door" was their life really "in imminent danger or someone else's is"?

In other words, how can you possibly be afraid of being run over if you're not behind the car?

Now maybe I'm reading it wrong and more than likely we don't have all of the facts, but that's how I see it for now.
We should all take ourselves seriously...and then crumple that image up and toss it out the window.

#252129 - 05/11/06 04:04 AM Re: Local News [Re: JoelM]
Fletch1 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/21/04
Posts: 2218
Loc: Florida
Good question and one that forces one to look at the facts of the incident rather than a preconceived idea about what it should look like. I know because I deal with all kinds of people who think they have it all figured out from reading the article.

The stolen SUV lost it rounding a corner and drove up into a yard, plowing through a huge hedge going in the front, and again coming out the side, It was momentarily blocked in by a pickup truck that was parked in a neighboring driveway. The driver continually rammed the pickup truck trying to break through and escape.

The officer could not even see the SUV from where she had to leave her cruiser, had to get out and run around the hedge to gain a vantage point from which to verbally challenge the driver....or even see where he went should he get out and run.

This was the compromise....The officer had to put herself in jeopardy to get close enough to even see the SUV or challenge the driver. There was nothing she could have done from the cover and safety of her cruiser except wonder what he was doing.

The hedge was pinning the doors closed and the officer had to stand in a tight space with her back against the branches. As the SUV rocked back and forth, had it cut the wheel while backing up, it likely would have run her over or pinned her into the hedge. Hence her warning to the driver that she would shoot if he tried to run her over.

After being on scene and then reading the article, I can say that they do not adequately describe just what a confined space the officer was in and how it was very possible that she could have been run over.

#252130 - 05/11/06 09:57 AM Re: Local News [Re: Fletch1]
JoelM Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 6355
Loc: Georgia, USA
Good to know that the action was more justified than the article intimated.

Has anything come of the incident since then?
We should all take ourselves seriously...and then crumple that image up and toss it out the window.

#252131 - 05/12/06 01:06 PM Re: Local News [Re: JoelM]
Fletch1 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/21/04
Posts: 2218
Loc: Florida
Still waiting to hear. I am glad the officer is physically ok. This type of thing happening early in an officer's career can take her a couple of different directions....

She can step up and get through it, knowing that she did the right thing.


She can get permanently rattled by the incident and the following media controversy and decide to move on to something less dramatic.

Hope things work out for her. I'd hate to see her give up.

#252132 - 05/20/06 11:24 AM Re: Local News [Re: Fletch1]
Glockmeister Offline

Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 255
Loc: Lancaster, Pa
And the moral of the story is....Don't steal cars.
As Drew carrey once said in "Liar Liar" when a client wanted his professional opinion: "STOP BREAKIN THE LAW A+++OLE!!!"

#252133 - 05/24/06 12:26 AM Re: Local News [Re: Fletch1]
Bushi_no_ki Offline

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1669
Loc: POM, Monterey CA
This is the part where I support LE totally. I've known cops to stretch the truth some when it came down to a minor possession charge, or probable cause in a DUI case, but this is blatantly where the cop had every business shooting. I'm glad to here she's physically ok, and I hope she comes out of it mentally.

#252134 - 06/15/06 08:09 PM Re: Local News [Re: Fletch1]
JoelM Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 6355
Loc: Georgia, USA
Over a month, anything new Fletch?
We should all take ourselves seriously...and then crumple that image up and toss it out the window.


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