City Home  > Lakeland Police Department >LPD Blog

LPD News Blog


Stay informed with the Lakeland Police Department News Blog.

On Friday, January 24, 2014 ten officers will be sworn in as members of the Lakeland Police Department. This completes their seven-weeks in the Mini Academy, and now they are ready to begin the next phase of their training as Lakeland Police officers. The officers will begin the 16 week Field Training phase and will be learning more about the department and community they will serve.  

The swearing in ceremony will be held at the First United Methodist Church, 72 Lake Morton Drive in Lakeland at 3:00 p.m.

The following officers will be sworn in:
   Seth Balser
   Kristopher Conner
   Bradley Dollison
   Mike Fuller
   Valerie Grey
   Misty Nappier
   Ronald “Ronnie” Powell
   Laura Robertson
   Jonathan Stephens
   Keri Suggs

On January 19, 2014, at approximately 1:51 a.m., the Lakeland Police Department responded to the Elks Lodge, 1026 N. Texas Avenue in reference to a shooting. Victim #1, Willie Williams,33, and his cousin got into a physical altercation inside the lodge after the cousin accidentally stepped on the suspects foot. The altercation moved outside the lodge at which point the suspect walked off briefly and returned within minutes shooting Williams a total of 5 times. Williams is listed in critical condition at LRMC.

Victim #2, Gregory Burgess, 23, was an innocent bystander outside the lodge and was shot once in the lower leg, possible by a bullet that exited Williams. Burgess drove himself to the Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

Victim #3, Darielle Kirkland, 23, was hit once in the face with the handgun knocking him to the ground. The handgun fired another round when Kirkland was struck. An unknown patron at this point kicked Kirkland in the head and knocked him unconscious.

The suspect has been identified as:

Sylvester Nathaniel Smith, Jr.
DOB 6/6/82
350 24th Street NW
Winter Haven, Fla 33880
•Known to frequent the North Iowa area in Lakeland

An arrest affidavit has been obtained for Smith charging him with Aggravated Battery with a Firearm (3 cts) and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

Smith should be considered armed and dangerous and anyone with information on his whereabouts should call 911 or they can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477.




Byers Levy, 59, a bicyclist riding around Lake Hollingsworth was struck and killed by Ronald L. Akins, 75 on September 8, 2013. The Follow-up investigation was conducted by LPD Traffic Homicide Investigator Michael Catalano. A Florida Department of Law Enforcement analysis of the blood sample taken from Akins tested positive for ethanol, specifically, Ethyl alcohol levels of 0.099 and 0.101 g/100 mL of blood. For drivers over 21 the legal limit in Florida is .08.

Based on this information, Ronald Akins was arrested on 1/21/14 and charged with Driving Under the Influence resulting in a death, a second degree felony.

State Attorney Jerry Hill issued Sgt. Brian McNabb a letter on September 16, 2013 stating that his office would no longer accept testimony from him in the 10th District unless he submitted to a polygraph. The City has reviewed the matter in greater detail and weighed the various options, legal considerations and potential outcomes, and as a result, has reached an agreement to retain him as a certified law enforcement officer with the LPD.

In his present capacity, Sgt. McNabb serves as a training officer for the department and coordinates the Mini-Academy, (in which he also provides instruction in the areas of physical fitness, weapons and other related programs, which does not include court testimony. It is very unlikely he would be called upon to testify let alone be the sole officer who would be called upon to testify in a criminal matter.  As such, there is little risk in him having to be called to court which could potentially impact his ability to testify in the 10th District. 

The agreement the City of Lakeland has reached with both Sgt. McNabb and the WCFPBA is that while he will be returned to normal status, the Department has the right to take into consideration, the effect of the letter to the extent it remains in effect, when and if he becomes eligible for any assignment, transfer or promotion wherein the requirement to testify may be implicated.  While this criteria cannot be exercised arbitrarily or capriciously by the Chief of Police, both McNabb and the WCFPBA have agreed that they will not pursue an administrative appeal of any denial that is made in such a manner.

Chief Womack state that the agreement reached with city management, herself and the WCFPBA represents the best possible outcome for all parties involved in light of the particular circumstances.