Sarasota police officers open fire on suspected car thieves

SARASOTA, Fla. - When Sarasota police officers tried to stop a suspected stolen vehicle early Thursday morning, the driver rammed three squad cars.  Fearing for their lives, the officers then opened fire as the driver tried to flee the scene, according to a police statement.

The incident occurred shortly before 2 a.m. at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Central Avenue, 30 minutes after the Manatee Sheriff's Office had issued an alert for the vehicle.

After the officers opened fire, the driver took off southbound on Central Avenue and crashed into two trees.

A passenger in the stolen 2012 Nissan refused orders to exit the car and was pulled out by a K-9.  The driver was hit by the gunfire, but his injuries were said to be non-life threatening.  The passenger received bite wounds from the K-9, according to the statement.

Both were taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for treatment. Their names were not released.

The officers were not hurt.

The officers involved in the shooting will be placed on routine administrative while the investigation continues.

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