The Tenth Judicial Circuit Officer Involved Deadly Incident Task Force is investigating a deputy-involved shooting that occurred in unincorporated Polk County, Florida, during which a PCSO deputy was shot, and the suspect was killed.
The incident began in the Avon Park area of Highlands County during the evening hours of June 29, 2023. The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop an orange 2003 Nissan that fled from deputies. HCSO initiated a pursuit.
The pursuit continued into Polk County and ended when the Nissan drove off the road and got stuck on uneven ground adjacent to an orange grove on SR 17 (Scenic Hwy) just north of T.S. Wilson Road in Frostproof. The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office notified PCSO, and deputies responded to assist.
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The HCSO and PCSO deputies on the scene saw a female behind the wheel, and the suspect, positively identified as 37-year-old Ramon Martinez, in the front passenger seat.
Martinez refused to get out of the car, and for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, conversed with the on-scene supervisor while also consuming methamphetamines.
He told the Lieutenant that he had two firearms in the car, along with the woman they could see, and a baby the deputies could not see. He repeatedly refused to let the woman get out of the car, nor would he surrender to deputies. He eventually agreed to trade weapons for some water.
He threw a loaded magazine and a handgun out of the car. The deputies heard him saying to someone in the car, “Quiet down baby, stay under the covers, it’s okay,” as if there was a baby in the car.
During the negotiations, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the baby in question that Martinez referred to was not actually in the vehicle and they were able to positively identify the woman who was in the car (against her will) with him. They also confirmed that he had a felony warrant for his arrest.
The PCSO SWAT team responded to the scene to continued negotiations. He continued to use meth and accused deputies of being Cartel members who were after him. He was eventually convinced to allow the female out of the car to retrieve a bottle of water for him. As soon as she walked away from the car, deputies grabbed her and moved her away to safety. She further confirmed to deputies that there was no baby in the car – it was part of his ruse to continue stalling the deputies.
Martinez jumped over into the driver’s seat and hit the gas, attempting to get the car loose from where it was stuck. At that time, the SWAT team threw a chemical agent into the car. He immediately starting shooting at the deputies, hitting 25-year-old Deputy Sheriff Samuel Yates in the shoulder, and injuring his face with glass shrapnel.
The deputies returned fire, and the suspect was declared deceased at the scene. Deputy Yates was treated and released from a local hospital.
“It was a heck of a shootout for a few minutes,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “When you have a gunfight with a SWAT team, you lose. Every time. That was his last bad decision of the night,” Judd said.
“As you can well imagine, when you start shooting at a SWAT team, it doesn’t end up well,” Judd said. “And we shot Ramon Martinez a lot. We killed him graveyard dead. We gave him exactly what he asked for.”
“He said he wanted to go to heaven; we made the arrangements for him,” said Judd.
Martinez’s criminal history includes 16 previous felonies and 13 misdemeanors. In 2019 he was sentenced to a year in state prison for felony battery and four years of probation after being released (probation was due to end in 2026). He had an active felony warrant for his arrest for violation of probation.
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