Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd holds up a photo of three teenagers charged with attempted first degree murder. Their ages are 19, 13, and 14. | Kimberly C. Moore, LkldNow

Three Lakeland teenagers now face multiple violent felony charges, including attempted murder, after one of them – a 13-year-old – got into a gunfight with a Lakeland police officer and shot the officer late Wednesday afternoon.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Lakeland Police Chief Sam Taylor said Wesley Dalmas, 13, Jermaine Julian, 19, and  Leonard Speight, Jr., 14, are all charged with attempted first-degree murder and resisting arrest with violence.

Judd said Dalmas “tried to kill” Lakeland Police Officer Jamie Smith, 30, who has been on the Lakeland Police force for two years after being recruited from the New York City Police Department.  He was shot in the foot as he chased Dalmas through the Carrington Place Apartments complex.

“What Officer Smith did last night was nothing short of heroic,” Taylor said at a Thursday morning press conference. “And I’m very proud that he performed the way that we knew that he would.”

Taylor said Smith is undergoing a round of antibiotics and expected him to be released Thursday from Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. He is in good condition, but he has two broken bones in his foot as a result of the gunshot.

Body and dash cam footage

Using body camera and dash camera footage from Smith and his marked squad car, investigators are piecing together the events from Wednesday, which started just after 5:15 p.m. Taylor said Smith heard a radio call about a shooting in the 1600 block of Kettles Avenue and was nearby on another call, so he rushed over.

Judd said that the three suspects were smoking marijuana and riding around in Julian’s mother’s car, looking to shoot an “op” – street slang for opposition gang members. In a text message to LkldNow Thursday afternoon, Judd said that one of the suspects “told us they were looking for anyone to shoot, so that is why they did the drive-by shooting. They were looking to randomly kill somebody.”

The dash cam footage shows Smith pulling up to an intersection on Lincoln Avenue. A young male who Judd and Taylor identified as Dalmas, dressed all in black, can be seen running to a waiting white Dodge Avenger that is slowly rolling down the street. It stops and Dalmas looks at Officer Smith in his patrol car as Dalmas gets into the left rear side. A right rear passenger then closes his door.

The Dodge speeds away, driving past someone in their front yard.  Smith chases the car for several blocks and then three males can be seen bailing out of the Dodge – running, or rolling then running, away from the still-moving car near the Carrington Place Apartments.  All three are tall and have the same athletic builds. Julian is listed in court records as being 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 130 pounds.

The man identified as the driver, Julian, is wearing black pants and a white t-shirt, while Speight is wearing black and white camouflage pants and hoodie. Dalmas is clearly seen holding a gun in his right hand as he runs down the sidewalk away from the police car, then back toward it, and finally past it.

Lakeland Police Chief Sam Taylor holds a photo of suspect Wesley Dalmas, 13, who is accused of shooting an LPD officer. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd looks on. | Kimberly C. Moore, LkldNow

“Officer Smith is fortunate that Dalmas decided not to just wheel around and shoot Officer Smith in the head, because Officer Smith had a lot going on at the time,” Taylor said. “He’s trying to give instructions on the radio. He’s trying to navigate his police car. He has a lot of things going on in the cockpit of that car and he would have a difficult time getting his weapon out and defending himself.”

The driverless car then sideswipes another vehicle before coming to a stop.

The incident picks up in the next video from Smith’s body camera. You can see Dalmas running down a sidewalk, dressed all in black, past parked cars and air-conditioning units. He turns right down the sidewalk between the building and a retaining wall and Smith follows. As Smith rounds the corner, Dalmas is waiting for him, his gun pointed at Smith, then he shoots.  Grass and dirt fly up and Taylor said that is when Smith was shot in the foot. Smith can also be seen pulling out and aiming his service weapon.

“The guy was … not only not shooting back over toward the officer, but actually turned and squared off in order to shoot at him,” Judd said.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd points to a video of 13-year-old Wesley Dalmas shooting at a Lakeland Police officer. | Kimberly C. Moore, LkldNow

Smith then radioed for help, saying he had been hit, but was continuing to chase the suspect and gave a description of Dalmas.

“He actually did a reload as he was running,” Taylor said during a 10 p.m. press conference Wednesday night. “He dropped a magazine and started another magazine rounding the corner and began to look for the suspect.”

Other officers arrived and joined the search as Smith asked neighbors if they saw where Dalmas ran to.

“He walks past a large set of bushes that are close up to one of the buildings. He doesn’t see him,” Taylor said. “As he turns around, this gentleman, the 13-year-old, jumps out of the bushes and begins to flee away and they engage in another gun battle there. (In) the second gun battle, the 13-year-old is struck several times, goes down. The officers immediately render first-aid to him and he is ultimately transported to Tampa General Hospital.”

Taylor said Thursday morning that Dalmas was shot in the leg, thigh and stomach.  He remains at Tampa General, where he is handcuffed to the bed and guarded by Lakeland Police officers.

Stolen guns and pattern of violence

Judd said Dalmas used a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic handgun in the shooting and that it was most likely stolen during a car burglary.  A Taurus was also found under where Speight had been sitting.

Dalmas was on probation for a January car burglary.  During that incident, a neighbor confronted Dalmas, and Speight and Dalmas pointed a gun at her.

Judd chastised gun owners who leave their weapons in unlocked cars, only to have them stolen by people like Dalmas.

“Yesterday afternoon, they were looking for somebody to kill. Did you hear what I said?” Judd said.

The sheriff chastised some in the media for not using Dalmas’ name, following corporate mandates regarding using juvenile names and photographs.

“I am sick to my stomach of them going, ‘Oh, did you know his age?’ It doesn’t make any difference. If you’re old enough to hold a gun and point it at a cop and pull the trigger, you’re old enough to be shot or to go to jail,” Judd said. “Do you know any children that go, ‘Hey, let’s get out of school today, get our guns, smoke a little dope and shoot up some people. These are hardened criminals. And don’t be misled by those that want to tell you anything else.”

“The only reason Officer Smith’s alive right now is (Dalmas) was a bad shot.”

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd

Judd said Julian and Speight were labeled as known gang members in the criminal justice system, while Dalmas is a known associate of gang members. Judd created a county-wide gang task force last year after a sharp rise in drive-by shootings. Lakeland Police joined the task force in January following a mass shooting on North Iowa Avenue in which 11 men were shot by a rival gang over a drug debt.

According to a list provided by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, in 2017, there were two drive by shootings in the entire county. In 2020, the amount spiked to 49, with 20 of those in Lakeland alone. Last year, there were 59, with 24 in Lakeland.

Judd and Taylor said Wednesday evening that Dalmas had been expelled from Rochelle School of the Arts for a reason they either didn’t know or couldn’t share.  Judd said it was bad enough that law enforcement could have been involved, but the school district chose to do a pre-trial diversion.

“Had the people who wanted to coddle them and ‘hug-a-thug’ cared enough to give them the services that they needed to get their attention, we wouldn’t have been here, where they were looking for somebody to kill and then shot and tried to kill a police officer,” Judd said. “The only reason Officer Smith’s alive right now is (Dalmas) was a bad shot.”

Editor’s note: The decision to name victims or suspects sometimes requires judgment calls. At LkldNow, we consider many factors before publishing people’s names. As a general rule, if a juvenile is charged with a serious violent crime like murder or attempted murder, if he or she is likely to be prosecuted as an adult, and if law enforcement officials have publicized the juvenile’s name, we believe the public has a right to know who they are. Each situation is considered on a case-by-case basis, but these are the sorts of things we take into account. In this situation, the callousness of the crime and suspects’ previous criminal records made our decision clear. Although adolescent brains are not fully developed, violent youths armed with guns can inflict as much harm on society as any adult.


While the trio have not been officially arraigned by the state attorney’s office, they were arrested on a number of charges. Judd said he expects they will all be charged as adults.

Wesley Dalmas, 13, was arrested for:

  • Attempted 1st degree murder
  • Resisting arrest with violence
  • Resisting arrest
  • Discharge of a firearm in public
  • Improper exhibition of a firearm
  • Violation of probation

Dalmas remains at Tampa General Hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Upon release from the hospital, he will be transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center in Bartow. At the time of his arrest, he was on probation for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, attempted burglary, unlawful possession of a firearm and improper exhibition of a firearm. As part of Dalmas’ probation conditions, he was not to have contact with Speight.

Leonard Speight, 14, was arrested for:

  • Attempted 1st degree murder
  • Resisting arrest with violence
  • Tampering with evidence
  • Possession of a firearm by a minor under 18-years-old

Speight was transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center. At the time of his arrest, he was on probation for attempted burglary. As part of Speight’s current probation conditions, he was not to have contact with Dalmas.

Jermaine Julian, 19, was arrested for:

  • Attempted 1st degree murder
  • Fleeing to elude
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • No valid driver’s license
  • Contributing to the delinquency of a minor (2 counts)
  • Tampering with evidence
  • Resisting arrest with violence

Julian was transported to the Polk County Jail. His previous criminal history includes six felonies and three misdemeanors for theft, carrying a concealed weapon, attempted burglary, trespassing, loitering, failure to appear and multiple violations of probation.

An affidavit with the Polk County Clerk of Courts shows Julian was arrested in April 2022 for shoplifting from a Lakeland Walmart and also for possession of a concealed Kel-Tec P-32 semi-automatic pistol, which was found in his pants pocket. Julian was with Christion’e Bennett, 18, who had in her purse a Glock G43 9mm handgun that had been reported stolen during a car burglary in Haines City. Julian also had two active warrants out of Osceola County.

A month later, in May 2022, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months of probation on one charge and 12 months on the other.

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Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to LkldNow in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at kimberly@lkldnow.com or 863-272-9250.

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1 Comment

  1. Two of the three are minors so they will get a month or so counselling and be let off.

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