The man shot by a Polk County drug task force Wednesday evening in Lakeland has died.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said 32-year-old Francis Perry died from wounds sustained after he started shooting at members of the task force. Perry was shot five, possibly, six times by law enforcement on scene during the encounter.
No officers were injured.
- Incident occurred on 2700 block of Golfview Street
- Francis Perry, who shot at police, was a fugitive
- Perry was shot multiple times
Perry died Thursday morning, around 6:30 a.m. at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, Judd said during a news conference.
The shootout happened in front of a trailer, in the 2700 block of Gulfview Street in Lakeland around 5 p.m. Wednesday. With the detectives surrounding Perry’s car and its tinted windows, Judd called the shootout “incredibly dangerous” and said the detectives were “in a gunfight for their lives and they won.”
Johnny Harrell lives nearby and heard it all.
“I thought it was firecrackers going off because it was bam bam, bam, bam, bam,” recalled Harrell. “I was thinking 'how in the world is it happening here?' because you always see it on TV and it’s happening somewhere else.”
Judd said detectives with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force spotted Perry driving down Combee Road and followed him to the trailer on Gulfview, knowing there was a warrant out for his arrest.
After Perry was shot, Judd said the detectives pulled Perry out of the car and performed CPR.
Judd said the task force members responded appropriately.
"We respect life," Judd said. "We expect the community to respect us back and they overwhelming do. But when they shoot at us, we will absolutely shoot back.
"That’s a guarantee."
Sheriff Judd holds a list that shows the suspect's criminal history. (Stephanie Claytor, Staff)
During the news conference, Judd described Perry’s lengthy criminal past that dates back to when he was 11 years old. He believes Perry was committing "suicide by cop" when he entered into the gun battle.
“He knew with him there with one gun and at least four of them there that it was certain death,” said Judd. “He chose this. He chose every bit of it. He was in total control and all he had to do was comply and nothing like this would’ve happened.”
Judd also said Perry was armed with a stolen gun out of Pasco County, and $4,500 worth of meth in the backseat of his car. He was released from prison in March, Judd said.
“Francis Perry is a documented, pedigreed thug,” said Sheriff Judd.
However, Perry’s girlfriend Nikki Elliott recalled him differently. She told us over the phone that Perry wasn’t the monster that Sheriff Judd portrayed him to be, and she said he helped out a lot of people. She said the two of them lived together and had a lost a son last year.
Winter Haven Police Chief Charlie Bird, who had officers on the task force, said law enforcement was fortunate.
"I want to put a human face on this," Bird said. "These officers have families to go home to. And tonight, they were faced with a very dangerous situation and had to make a decision to defend themselves…and like the sheriff said, we’re not going to apologize when someone pulls a gun on us and fires on us."
Perry had a long criminal history, including drug possession and distribution charges, weapon charges, and robbery charges. He'd also previously admitted to two different law enforcement agencies that he was a member of a White Supremacist movement.
Per standard procedure, the officers involved in the shooting will be placed on paid administrative leave, according to Polk County Sheriff's officials.