Daniel Cole, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper from Pinellas Park, Florida, was placed on administrative leave after he shot a cemetery owner in the leg during an investigation, reports say. The victim, Clifford Work, sustained a bullet wound to one of his legs and was taken to the Bayfront Medical Center. Work, 48, was armed at the time, but reports did not indicate whether he drew his weapon. The incident remains under FHP investigation. As more details come forward, it is possible that Cole could face criminal charges. It remains to be seen whether Work plans on filing legal charges against Cole for the shooting.
Reports say the incident occurred around 6:00 Monday morning. Trooper Cole was hunting down a stolen motorcycle, and signals from an anti-theft system of the vehicle led him to Royal Palm Cemetery in Pinellas County. Work, who reports say owns the company Work & Son, operates a number of cemeteries throughout Tampa Bay County, including Royal Palm Cemetery.
Work was at Royal Palm Cemetery Monday morning when Cole entered the premises in search of the missing bike. The trooper followed the signal from the bike until he stumbled upon a shed on the cemetery’s property. Inside of the shed, Work was preparing for the work day, and the trooper purportedly saw that Work was armed. Out of fear for his own life, the trooper reportedly opened fire on Work, who took a bullet to his leg.
When wind of the shooting reached news outlets reporters began to question whether or not Cole was justified in the discharging his weapon. According to reports, Cole had been the center of similar controversy in February after dash cam footage from his cruiser showed him tazering a cuffed woman. Cole had pulled the woman over following a car chase. Reports say that when she was placed in hand restraints, she attempted to run off, prompting Cole shoot her with a stun gun from her rear flank. The woman plunged to the ground and bashed her head off the hard cement, leaving her in a coma-like state.
In this latest incident, Cole is once again in the public spotlight. An investigation has shown that Work was not in any way involved with the stolen vehicle. Detectives found the motorcycle hidden in a patch of woods near the cemetery following the shooting. When Cole confronted Work in the cemetery, Work was reportedly armed, but reports suggest he may have been licensed to carry a concealed firearm.
Reports also claim that Work has no prior convictions and is a respected member of the community. He is married, has two children and lives in a home in New Tampa. However, Cole upholds that he felt his life was in danger when he confronted the suspect. “Officers do not like to be involved in shootings; they do not want to take that step.” A police spokesperson told press. “It’s a deadly force situation. [Cole] feared for his life.”