What originally started as a manhunt for burglary suspects, quickly turned into a lifesaving mission.
On January 27, the Haines City Police Department was dispatched to a home burglary after the homeowner and his girlfriend found two strangers in their kitchen.
Fearing for his life, police said the homeowner pulled out a gun and fired five rounds toward the strangers. Seconds later, he and his girlfriend got back in their vehicle and called 911. Police confirmed the homeowner has a concealed weapon license.
Once officers got to the scene, they started searching for the suspected burglars. They found shell casings and a blood trail inside the home, which led a K9 outside. Shortly after, police found one of the suspects down on the ground in a nearby park.
“You can imagine it’s dark. They don’t know who this guy is. They encounter him,” explained Haines City Police Chief Gregory Goreck. “They’ve got to make these decisions. Is he armed? Is he playing opossum? Is he seriously injured? Because we know he was shot at. They don’t know if he was hit. So, you know, the officers do what they do with their training.”
Officers quickly realized the suspect, later identified as 27-year-old Tyriek Tramaine Washington, was beginning to bleed out and has been calling for help. In body camera footage, Washington can be heard saying “I got a baby on the way, man.”
Five officers surrounded Washington and immediately started to comfort him and worked to treat the gunshot wounds. Officers cut off Washington’s pants and created a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
Goreck told Law&Crime Network that the quick thinking of the officers likely saved Washington’s life.
“Based on his injuries, and the fact that he was in a park in a position that we found him in, he may not have been found until the next morning, if he was lucky,” Goreck explained. “The way his wounds were and the bleeding, yes. He could have bled out and died right there.”
Goreck admitted the officers who saved Washington’s life were doing their job. He referenced the newly released body camera video of Tyre Nichols’ beating, stating his officers acted in stark contrast to that.
“I think it is a great comparison to show,” Goreck said. “But here you have, unfortunately, two black men who are both [in their late 20s]. In one situation, five officers didn’t do the right thing, and [Nichols] perished.”
On January 7, 29-year-old Nichols was pulled over in Memphis, Tennessee for reckless driving. Body camera footage of the incident showed five Memphis police officers brutally beating Nichols. He ran from officers after getting tased. Three days later, he died in the hospital. The five officers were later charged for his death.
Goreck believes the similarities between Washington’s and Nichols’ cases are shocking, but that the actions of the responding police officers are vastly different.
“Here you have five officers who did exactly the right thing and [Washington] lived,” Goreck explained. “It just goes to show how when you have the right training, the right leadership and the right personnel, and it all comes together at the right time, that the right thing can happen.”
Washington is in critical but stable condition. He faces multiple charges, including burglary to a residence. Police have not yet identified the second suspect in the incident.
Officers are still reviewing the case, but so far, the homeowner is not facing any charges.
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