Polk County man shot, killed by Winter Haven officer; sheriff’s office investigating

Romy Ellenbogen, Tampa Bay Times
·2 min read

A 52-year-old man was shot and killed by a Winter Haven police officer Saturday night, prompting a Polk County Sheriff’s Office investigation, officials said.

Winter Haven officers were called to a home in the southeast part of the city for a report that Larry Jenkins had fired a gun.

Officers asked to see his hands, but Jenkins would not take his hand out of his pocket, officers said. He told them he had a gun, and later revealed it. The Sheriff’s Office reported that Jenkins told officers “I’m going to die tonight” and “you’re going to have to shoot me.”

The people who called the police on Jenkins said he had been drinking all day and had made sexually inappropriate comments to a 14-year-old at his home, like asking to give or receive oral sex with her and exposing his penis, according to the Sheriff’s Office. When the girl’s mom and her husband drove over to pick her up after being texted, they got in a fight with Jenkins. Jenkins offered a handgun to the husband for him to shoot Jenkins, according to the Sheriff’s Office. When the man called 911, he reported that Jenkins made statements like “I’m fixin’ to get ready to die.”

Police arrived to the Orchid Springs Drive apartment complex just past 10 p.m., where they saw Jenkins smoking on the back porch with his right hand in his pocket. Sgt. Joshua Dentel with the Winter Haven Police Department told Jenkins to show his hands, but Jenkins didn’t comply, according to the Sheriff’s Office, instead telling officers he had a gun in his pocket.

Officers used a Taser on Jenkins twice, with little effect. The second time he was hit with a Taser, Jenkins had begun to move his hand out of his pocket, exposing the side of a handgun, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

As Jenkins was being hit with the Taser, Dentel fired a rifle at Jenkins and shot him several times, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Jenkins fell and dropped a 9mm handgun, according to the office. He was taken to Winter Haven Hospital, where he was pronounced dead just before 11:30 p.m.

Along with the Sheriff’s Office investigation, the Winter Haven Police Department is conducting an internal investigation. The State Attorney’s Office is also investigating the use of force.

Dentel was placed on administrative leave with pay as the investigation continues.