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Suspect Killed While Attempting Flee In Stolen Car At Lakeland Salem’s Gyros & More Restaurant

Lakeland Police Department Press Release

On December 26, at approximately 2:21 a.m., Lakeland Police Officers responded to Salem’s Gyros & More restaurant, located at 101 East Memorial Boulevard, in reference to a large crowd gathering in the parking lot after a local Night Club had closed. Officers were attempting to clear approximately 150 to 200 people loitering in the parking lot when Officer Patel observed a stolen Chevy Camaro parked in the lot. The vehicle, reported stolen to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, was parked sideways in a parking space facing in a southwest direction. As multiple officers approached the vehicle, the driver, identified as Michael Jerome Taylor, attempted to flee by rapidly accelerating the car, placing officers and the public in immediate life-threatening danger.

Officer Markais Neal, was in the parking lot south of the vehicle and as the stolen vehicle accelerated directly toward him, placing him in fear for his life, he fired at the vehicle. Two additional officers also fired at the vehicle as it accelerated recklessly through the parking lot, striking several vehicles and a utility pole. The stolen vehicle continued, hitting another vehicle and propelling it into the wall of a local business, causing damage to the exterior wall. At some point during the incident, a female passenger jumped out of the stolen vehicle and was detained. Officers removed Taylor from the driver’s seat and immediately began first aid. A firearm was located on the driver’s side floorboard of the vehicle.

Taylor was transported to Lakeland Regional Health were he later succumbed to his injuries. At this time, it is unknown how many times the suspect was shot or how many rounds the officers fired. The Lakeland Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit and The State Attorney’s Office responded to the scene.

As per the Department’s policy, all officers involved in the incident have been placed on paid administrative leave for a minimum of three days.

The suspect has been identified as:
Michael Jerome Taylor
Age: 17 years old
Address: Imperial Drive, Winter Haven, Florida
Michael Jerome Taylor has four previous felony arrests ranging from burglary to grand theft auto.
Next of kin has been notified

The Officers involved are as follows:
Officer Markais Neal
Age: 28
Service: 1 year

Officer Joseph Novis
Age: 25
Service: 1 year and 6 months

Officer Raj Patel
Age: 23
Service: 1 year and 6 months

As a witness to a homicide, the female passenger’s name is exempt at this time.

This is an active and ongoing investigation. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.

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