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Florida Police Use Dead Man's Finger To Try Unlocking His Phone In Funeral Home

"I just felt so disrespected and violated," the man's fiance said. 

By Jon Silman

Florida detectives went to a funeral home to try using a dead man's finger to unlock his phone for an investigation.

Linus F. Phillip, 30, was shot and killed by a Largo police officer on March 23, after an altercation at a gas station, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Later, his fiance was at the funeral home in Clearwater when the detectives showed up with Phillip's phone. They were taken to the body, the Times reported, and then tried to unlock the phone by holding Philip's hands on the fingerprint sensor.

"I just felt so disrespected and violated," fiance Victoria Armstrong told the Times.

Largo Police Department Lt. Randall Chaney said the attempt was unsuccessful. He said detectives wanted to access and preserve data to help with the investigation into Phillip's death, as well as an inquiry about drugs that involved Phillip. Chaney said he didn't think the department would need a warrant because there's no expectation of privacy after death.

Chaney told the Times that there's only a 48- to 72-hour window to access a phone using a fingerprint sensor, and police got Philip's device back only after the body was released from state custody, so they had to go to the funeral home.  

The detectives have not been reprimanded for their use of Phillip's corpse. 

Phillip was killed at a gas station in Tampa, according to WFLA-TV in Tampa. Officers tried to detain him after they said they smelled marijuana in his car, but Philip tried to drive away, dragging Officer Matthew Steiner with him, police said. 

As the car accelerated backwards, the officer "attempted to defend himself" and fired four gunshots, which all struck Phillip, Chaney said. The officer then fell out of the front of the vehicle and onto the pavement, and was nearly run over by the car, with the driver's door brushing him as it went over him, Chaney said.

The police department said Steiner fired in self-defense. He was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and is on paid administrative leave as the incident is investigated. 

Phillip had been to prison twice and had 22 felony arrests and 16 misdemeanor arrests in Florida, according to Chaney. He said officers found a significant amount of marijuana, crack cocaine and cash in Phillip's car.

[Photo: Florida Department of Corrections] 

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