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HCSO deputy accidentally shot a woman during undercover operation, new documents reveal

ABC Action News obtains 20-page internal investigation summary
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Posted at 5:45 PM, Aug 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-16 18:27:08-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A set of new documents reveal that a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office accidentally shot a woman during an undercover gun-buy operation in 2018, leaving her permanently injured.

We've obtained a nearly 20-page summary of the internal investigation and a 10 minute recorded interview between an investigator and a deputy on the five-man tactical team who witnessed it all.

ABC Action News first broke the story on the deputy at the center of a federal lawsuit back in July. The victim, 19-year-old Racquel Sanchez, filed suit against the deputy and Sheriff Chad Chronister alleging battery, negligence and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

We reviewed the recorded interview between an internal affairs investigator and an un-named deputy following the February 2018 undercover operation.

RELATED: Hillsborough County deputy suspended for 'negligently' firing gun during a 2018 undercover operation

"I went down because I heard gunshots," said the deputy, "I thought we were being shot at."

Investigators have now found that Deputy Dean Greene shot Sanchez, who wasn't facing charges, by accident.

The intention of the undercover operation was to buy a suspected stolen firearm from Sanchez's then boyfriend, Roberto Rivera. Rivera, who was also shot, faced 14 total charges following the operation including multiple drug charges and felony firearm possession.

The sound of Greene's shot caused Detective Josh Lane to shoot at Rivera.

Dr. Anthony LaRose, who teaches Criminology at the University of Tampa, reviewed the findings of the internal investigation.

"We give police a lot of power, we give them a lot of authority, and they have to wield it responsibly. And is there a lot of pressure on them? Yes. Are they under a microscope? Often times yes. Do they take a lot of public pressure? Yes." said LaRose, "But that comes with the job when you want to be someone who has the ability to deny someone their liberty and to use deadly force."

"He accidentally fired, he didn't mean to shoot this woman. Are we being a little too harsh?" we asked LaRose.

"My answer to that would be no. The short answer is no," he responded, "These are life and death decisions."

The tape reveals the surprise gunfire was also nerve wrecking for the deputies involved. It left the un-named deputy shaken.

"Do you remember what detective Lane was saying to you?" asked the investigator.

"Yeah," the deputy said choking up. "I don't know why this part bothers me so much but it does. He just kept yelling my name asking me where I was hit."

In the internal investigation findings, we got a first-hand account into the shooting from Deputy Greene. He states he doesn't remember hearing his shot, pulling the trigger or pointing the gun at the woman.

He was ordered to serve a three-day suspension and to take remedial gun training. A State Attorney's Office investigation found "no basis for criminal charges" against Greene or Detective Lane, who shot at Rivera.

LaRose believes this wasn't enough.

"It was the one thing that did jump out at me. That did not seem like a lot," he said.