Early Sunday morning a man was shot and killed by a PCPD officer after driving a stolen vehicle directly toward him.
Two Plant City Police officers shot and killed the driver of a stolen vehicle after police said the man drove the vehicle at one of the officers.
PCPD spokesman Al Van Duyne said a grey Honda was reported stolen Saturday evening so the department put out a Be On the Lookout call for the car. At approximately 6 a.m. Sunday morning two officers, Corporal Gerald Baker and Officer Christian Lopez, saw the car at 1202 Spooner Drive and approached the vehicle. The officers shined their light at the car and realized a man was inside. Then the driver reportedly put the car in drive and drove the car directly toward Baker, who stood against the fence.
“The man put the car in drive and drove toward the officers,” Van Duyne said. “The first officer was walking toward the front of the vehicle, but he was walking parallel with a fence line at the house. The second officer was approaching from the rear and he was approaching the right rear side of the vehicle. As the officers were walking toward the vehicle the driver put the vehicle into drive and starts driving forward toward the one officer. Well they both were in fear, obviously the officer the vehicle was coming toward was in fear of his life and the other officer was in fear the driver was going to injure the other officer.”
The fence was six feet tall so Baker, who was at the front of the vehicle, was unable to take the time to scale the barrier or dodge the incoming car, so both officers fired shots at the vehicle in an attempt to stop the driver. Van Duyne said the driver, who was identified as 25-year-old Steven Kerr Jr., was shot at least once and died at the scene.
Baker has been with PCPD for 14 years and was cleared of a previous officer-involved shooting in 2017. Lopez has been with the department for seven years.
Both Baker and Lopez were put on standard paid leave. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the incident. PCPD has also enlisted the assistance of HCSO and its crime scene unit came in to process the scene. Any subsequent information will come from the FDLE.
This is an ongoing investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact the Plant City Police Department or the FDLE.