Date: February 27, 2001 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact:

Sterling Ivey, (863) 534-6377 or 819-0221, pager


The Polk County Sheriff's Office is investigating an overnight fatal shooting of an armed suspect by two members of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. 

On Oct. 25, 2000 members of the HIDTA Task Force executed a search warrant at 6610 Fernwood Dr., in Lakeland. As a result of the search warrant, Thomas Franklin Sealey, DOB 8/5/64, of 6610 Fernwood Dr., in Lakeland, was arrested and charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine, Possession of Cannabis, and VOP from Brevard County. 

Subsequent to the search warrant being served, members of the HIDTA Task Force opened a Federal Investigation into Sealey's involvement in narcotics. In December 2000, a Federal Grand Jury indicted Sealey on a variety of drug and federal firearm violations. 

Sealey, who had bonded out of the Polk County Jail from the Oct. 2000 arrest, was being sought on the federal drug charges. As a result of efforts by the HIDTA Task Force to locate and arrest Sealey, task force members learned that Sealey had made threats against Timothy Joe Layne, DOB 8/20/65 and a 17 year-old family member for money the two owed him. During the investigation task force members learned that on Feb. 26, 2001, Sealey would be going to Layne's home located at 11681 Old Dade City Rd., in Lakeland, to collect on the debt. 

Acting on that information, members from the HIDTA Task Force, with Layne's cooperation, established surveillance at the residence waiting for Sealey to arrive to arrest him on the Federal charges. 

At approximately 8:45 p.m. Sealey arrived at the residence. Task force members inside the residence observed Sealey approach the home with a firearm in his hand. Sealey began cursing and demanding entry to the residence. Layne told Sealey to go to the back door. Sealey proceeded to the rear of the residence, continuing to demand entry and cursing as he walked around. Task force members from inside opened the rear door as Sealey stood at the back steps with the firearm in his right hand. Task force members identified themselves and ordered Sealey to drop the weapon. Sealey then turned away from the officers and fled toward a wooded area adjacent to the residence. Two undercover officers from the Lakeland Police Department assigned to the operation began pursuing Sealey. With the officers in close pursuit, Sealey encountered a chain link fence which he managed to scale. Once Sealey cleared the fence he turned to the officers raising and pointing the firearm at them. The officers both fired their firearms killing Sealey. 

The investigation into the shooting is being conducted by the Polk County Sheriff's Office, Bureau of Criminal Investigations and the State Attorney's Office. Preliminary results of the investigation indicate the two undercover officers fired between 6 and 8 rounds. Sealey's fully loaded 9MM semi-auto Taurus found next to his body, did not appear to have been fired. Sealey was struck at least 4 times. Sealey has a lengthy criminal record that dates back several years. 

A passenger in the vehicle Sealey drove to the Old Dade City Rd. residence, Michael Davidson, DOB 1/22/76, of 7601 Paul Buchman Hwy. in Plant City, remained in the vehicle during the incident and did not offer resistance or participate. Davidson, currently on probation for a drug trafficking offense, told Detectives he and Sealey had recently ingested methamphetamine together. According to Davidson, he rode with Sealey to the residence so Sealey could collect money from a prior drug transaction. Davidson was arrested and charged with violating the conditions of his probation and booked into the Polk County Jail. 

When Detectives from the Polk County Sheriff's Office complete their investigation, the results will be forwarded to the State Attorney's Office for review. Agencies involved in the surveillance operation were the Polk County Sheriff's Office, Lakeland Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No one, other than the two Lakeland Police Department Officers, fired their weapons. The case is still under investigation.

Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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