TAMPA, Fla. — A deputy was justified in shooting at a man who first opened fire toward the officer during a traffic stop, the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office said Tuesday following its month-long investigation.
Ma'at Lee, 20, faces charges of armed robbery with a firearm, grand theft, armed carjacking and attempted murder of a law enforcement officer for the Sunday, Oct. 31 shooting.
Hillsborough County Deputy Geovanny Rodriguez, who was earlier identified by the sheriff's office, pulled over a silver Jeep Cherokee driven by Lee near the intersection of 43rd Street and Skipper Road after seeing the car did not have tags. The State Attorney's office stated Lee had stopped in the middle of the road, prompting the deputy to use his PA system to give instructions.
As Rodriguez waited for backup to arrive, the State Attorney's office said he noticed Lee hang halfway out the driver's side window and saw a flash — he realized he was being fired upon and ducked for cover.
Investigators earlier said Lee shot at Rodriguez at least eight times; the State Attorney's office said nearby Ring camera video captured two distinct sounds of different gunfire, which indicates the deputy fired his weapon at the Jeep immediately afterward.
The deputy fired four shots through his front windshield, the State Attorney's office stated. Rodriguez couldn't pursue the Jeep as Lee drove off as his front tire was shot out, it added.
"After our thorough analysis, we have determined that the facts and evidence of this incident prove that the law enforcement officer reasonably believed he was in fear of imminent death or great bodily harm when he used deadly force," the State Attorney's office said in a statement. "...He also did not have a duty to retreat."
Neither Lee nor Rodriguez were hurt, the State Attorney's office said.
Lee was arrested on Nov. 2 after Sheriff Chad Chronister said he used a mobile device to wire money from a credit card to himself. Investigators said they learned Lee had stolen the Jeep from a Dave & Buster's a few days earlier. And a week prior to that, he allegedly robbed someone in Cobb County, Georgia.