CLEARWATER – A Clearwater man who police said reached for a gun on the ground was shot and killed by officers on Saturday.
Bryan Bernard Wallace, 39, died at Morton Plant Hospital, Clearwater police said in a statement about the event.
The incident began at 6:27 p.m. when police were called to investigate “a man waving a gun in a threatening manner in the area of a crowd” near the intersection of North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and LaSalle Street, police said.
Just after 7 p.m., after police searched unsuccessfully for the subject, a woman walked up to officers and told them she’d seen a man carrying a gun at the intersection indicated in the original call.
Two officers — Justin Buis and Michael Diaz — then saw Wallace near a house in the 1000 block of La Salle Street. Wallace matched the description given in the radio call, police said.
After Buis and Diaz yelled commands at Wallace, they saw a gun fall from Wallace’s waistband to the ground, police said. Buis and Diaz ordered Wallace not to reach for the weapon, but “Wallace began to reach for the gun despite being given instructions to stop,” police said in the press statement.
Because they feared for their safety and the safety of others in the area, the officers fired their weapons at Wallace, hitting him.
State records show Wallace had been previously sentenced to three years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and had other convictions, including carrying a concealed weapon and resisting an officer with violence. Police said his 40th birthday was on June 3, five days before the shooting.
The investigation into Saturday night's shooting is still in the preliminary stages and is being conducted by the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office and the Clearwater Police Department, Clearwater police said.