Man Sentenced For Killing Sheriff's Office K-9

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By Julie Montanaro
May 13, 2014

A man accused of exchanging gunfire with deputies and killing an LCSO K9 is now headed to prison for it. Ours were the only cameras rolling as he was fingerprinted and led away.

It happened near the corner of Magnolia and Seminole in January 2013.

Deputies chased Carlos Cespedes's car lights and sirens clear across town and when Cespedes got out, deputies say, he had a gun in his hand.

Deputies let loose a K-9 named Koda. They say Cespedes shot and killed the dog and they fired back hitting Cespedes in the head.

"Raise your right hand, Sir. Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony that you're about to give in this case is to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?"

"Yes sir."

Cespedes survived and now, more than a year later, he's opted not to fight the charges.

He plead no contest Tuesday to multiple felonies - not only for the confrontation with deputies - but for the shooting that prompted deputies to chase him in the first place.

He could have faced up to life in prison for attempted murder. This plea deal will land him behind bars for 20 years followed by another five on mental health probation.

"With the 20 year min man (minimum mandatory), he will serve day for day of that 20 year sentence and afterward will be on supervised mental health probation, which will hopefully protect the public and afford him some treatment," prosecutor Lorena Vollrath-Bueno said afterward.

"In my opinion, it's not a light sentence," Cespedes' attorney Daren Shippy said. "He certainly faced more than that, but I believe in my heart that it was a fair resolution."

Cespedes's family did not want to comment on the plea and sentence but pointed out Cespedes is a veteran.

Shippy says Cespedes' experience in the military has had an impact on his mental health and prosecutors confirm Cespedes was receiving services from the V-A before this happened.

Prosecutors say the deputy whose dog was killed that day agreed to the plea deal. LCSO says he is no longer a K-9 handler, but is still a deputy there.

By: Julie Montanaro
May 13, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - A Tallahassee man accused of shooting and killing a police dog after a cross town chase is now headed to prison.

Carlos Cespedes was sentenced on more than half a dozen charges connected to that case and others.

The judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison followed by five years on mental health probation.

The prosecutor says all the victims signed off on the plea including the Leon County Sheriffs Deputy whose K9 was killed.

By: Julie Montanaro
March 14, 2013

A Leon County grand jury has decided deputies who shot Carlos Cespedes were justified in their use of force.

By: Julie Montanaro
February 14, 2013

Court records show Carlos Cespedes made his first appearance before a judge this morning.

Cespedes is accused of pointing a gun at deputies and killing a k-9 named Koda back on January 31st.

This morning the judge denied bond on the attempted murder charge that led deputies to chase Cespedes in the first place. He was suspected in a shooting on Stuckey Avenue earlier in the day.

The judge did set a bond on charges stemming from the police pursuit and gunpoint confrontation that followed.

Arrest papers say deputies followed Cespedes with lights and sirens from a Circle K near Lake Jackson to a home clear across town off South Magnolia Drive.

Arrest papers say Cespedes drove between 40 and 50 miles an hour during the chase and ran several red lights and stop signs along the way.

Arrest papers say after Cespedes shot the dog, he briefly put the gun to his own head, but then lowered it.

Arrest papers say Cespedes turned and looked at Deputy Ronn McMullen with the gun raised chest height and that's when Cespedes was shot in the head.

An LCSO Spokesman says Cespedes is being held in the jail's medical unit for now.

By Julie Montanaro
February 13, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Carlos Cespedes, the man accused of shooting and killing an LCSO K-9, has now been transferred from the hospital to the jail.

He faces six felonies, including aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and killing a police dog. He did not make his first appearance this morning, but the judge set his bond at $85,000.

By Julie Montanaro
February 1, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - A wanted man's run from the law ended with a shot to the head in his family's front yard.

Leon County deputies opened fire when they say the man pointed a gun at them and then shot and killed a K-9 named Koda.

The wanted man, Carlos Cespedes, survived.

Carlos Cespedes and deputies exchanged gunfire right near the corner of Magnolia Drive and Seminole Drive.

You can still see neon paint marking the spot.

Deputies say it was the end to a lights and sirens pursuit that started clear across town near Lake Jackson.

"We heard seven or eight gunshots and then about 30 seconds later, we heard some police sirens and the next thing we knew we were surrounded by police cars," neighbor Helen King said.

Cespedes was wanted for attempted murder. Tallahassee Police reports say he was wanted for shooting a man on Stuckey Avenue earlier the same day in an argument over a woman.

LCSO spotted Cespedes at a convenience store on North Monroe Street at about 8:45 Thursday night and when he refused to stop, they gave chase.

An LCSO spokesman says when Cespedes got to his mother's house on Seminole Drive, he got out with a gun in his hand.

When deputies let loose a K-9 named Koda to chase him down, Cespedes started firing, deputies.

"Koda was directly in that line of fire and Koda was ultimately shot and killed," LT James McQuaig said, " both deputies fired mulitple shots and the suspect was hit in the head."

The two deputies who fired on Cespedes - Ron McMullen and Tyler Epstein - are now on administrative leave with pay pending an internal affairs investigation.

The flag at LCSO is at half staff, black wreaths hang on the door and flowers continue to arrive for McMullen's partner ... a highly trained k-9 with five years on the force.

"We have lost a very valuable part of our team and deputy McMullen has lost a five and a half year partner that's been with him day for day for over five years," McQuaig said.

At last check, Cespedes was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

Deputies say when Cespedes is released from the hospital, he'll face a long list of charges including a felony for shooting and killing a police dog. That alone is punishable by up to five years in prison.

By: Julie Montanaro

New details have emerged in a shooting that claimed the life of a K-9 last night.

According to the Leon County Sheriff's Office, the shooting occurred in the front yard of the suspect's mother's home.

Carlos Cespedes was wanted for the shooting and attempted murder of another man on Stuckey Avenue earlier the same day.

Tallahassee Police reports indicate that shooting was during an argument over a woman.

Leon County Sheriff's Office Release
February 1, 2013

At approximately 8:42 p.m. on January 31, 2013 the Leon County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop Carlos Manuel Cespedes, 31, near the intersection of North Monroe Street and Fred George Road.

Deputies received information that Cespedes was in the area and had outstanding warrants for Attempted 1st degree Murder, Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and Discharging a Firearm from a Vehicle.

When deputies attempted to stop Cespedes, he fled in a silver Pontiac Vibe. Deputies pursued Cespedes to the area of 2115 Seminole Drive where he drove through the yard, exited the vehicle with a firearm and began firing at the deputies.

K-9 Deputy Ron McMullen deployed his partner “Koda” as he and other deputies attempted to apprehend Cespedes. The suspect fired multiple shots at the deputies, shooting “Koda.” Deputies McMullen and Tyler Epstein fired multiple shots in return, striking Cespedes in the head.

Deputies transported “Koda” to a local animal hospital where he died from a single gunshot wound. “Koda” was a 5 ½ year old male German shepherd who served with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office since 2008.

Sheriff Larry Campbell stated, “Last night the Leon County Sheriff's Office lost a valuable member of the agency. LCSO K-9 "Koda" was killed while protecting his partner, Deputy McMullen and other deputies from an armed violent fugitive. “Koda” was a fearless and loyal partner. He was trained to serve and protect and that is exactly what he did.”

Deputies McMullen and Epstein were placed on Administrative Leave with pay, pending the completion of an internal investigation per LCSO policy.

Cespedes was taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Room where he is being treated for injuries sustained during this incident. Upon his release, he will be transported to the Leon County Jail.

By: Julie Montanaro
January 31, 2013

Tallahassee, FL -A wanted man shot and killed a K-9 officer in Tallahassee late last night and deputies responded with gunfire.

At least two deputies shot the suspect; we are still not sure the extent of his injuries.

In the wake of last night's events, WCTV visited the Leon County Sheriff's Office. The flag is at half staff there and there are black wreaths on the front door, all for Koda, the 51/2 year old officer dog shot and killed last night.

Deputies were out all night working at the scene - taking photos, doing interviews and gathering evidence.

The man, Carlos Cespedes, was wanted for attempted murder and more. When deputies tried to pull him over last night, he took off, and they followed him all the way to the corner of Magnolia and Seminole Drive.

Deputies say when Cespedes got out of the car, he had a gun in his hand and opened fire, not only on the charging dog, but on the deputies too.

Cespedes killed the dog, and at least two deputies opened fire.

Cespedes was shot repeatedly and taken to Tallahassee Memorial, but neither the hospital nor the sheriff's office is releasing any information about his condition right now.

31 year old Carlos Cespedes. He is 31 had a warrant for his arrest out of TPD for attempted murder, aggravated battery and discharging a firearm.

WCTV checked his rap sheet, and according to court records, he's been arrested five times since 2008, including arrests for drug possession, concealed weapons charges, domestic battery and resisting arrest.

Those court records also show he was just in court January 3rd and was sentenced to probation and community service.

By: Jason Kahn
January 31, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - According to police, at approximately 8:42pm this evening, officers attempted to stop a driver who was being pursued for attempted 1st degree murder, one of three charges.

After the pursuit was initiated, Carlos Manuel Cespedes, a Hispanic 31 year old male, failed to stop for police. Cespedes eventually pulled off on the side of the road on Magnolia Drive.

Cespedes then exited the vehicle and opened fire on the officers, fatally shooting a K-9 officer, Koda.

Police opened fire on Cespedes and he is now being treated at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital; the extent of his injuries are unknown at this time.

Cespedes was wanted on 3 charges, 1st degree attempted murder, battery, and discharging a firearm at a vehicle, and now he will add, amongst other charges, murder of the K-9 dog, which is considered murder of an officer.

By: Eyewitness News
January 31, 2013

According to Leon County Sheriff's Office, there has been a shooting in the area of Seminole Drive and Magnolia.

WCTV has a reporter on the way, and will bring you updates as they become available.

K-9 Officer killed in standoff with Cespedes

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