PCSO arrests Katelyn Roman on outstanding warrant, drug charges following high-speed chase that ends in crash. She was among two defendants six years ago involving suicide of Rebecca Ann Sedwick.
LAKELAND — A Lakeland teen who was one of two defendants in a 2013 cyberbullying suicide case that drew nationwide attention has landed in the Polk County Jail.
Katelyn Candice Roman, 18, was arrested Tuesday after a 29-year-old man she was riding with led Polk County sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase through Lakeland in a stolen car, according to arrest affidavits. Roman already had a warrant issued March 7 for failure to appear on charges of resisting officer without violence and giving a false name to a law enforcement officer.
According to the affidavits, Roman and Kenneth Alexander were seen pulling into a McDonald’s on Memorial Boulevard in a white Volkswagen Tiguan that fit the description of a stolen vehicle. Deputy Brandon Owusu pulled his patrol car behind the Volkswagen and activated the emergency lights.
Alexander put the vehicle in reverse and rammed the patrol car, the affidavits said. He then struck an unoccupied vehicle, pushing it from a parking spot to flee the scene.
A pursuit ensued, according to the affidavits, and speeds exceeded 100 mph before the chase ended with a crash and the car on its roof at Carpenters Way and North Florida Avenue.
After Owusu physically removed Roman and Alexander from the vehicle, a glass pipe and clear plastic bag — both with a white crystal-like substance inside — were found, according to affidavits. Both field-tested for methamphetamine. The pipe was discovered inside a Concord string bag with Alexander’s ID.
Who was driving the car during the chase became an issue. Alexander initially told the deputy that a man named Bubba was driving, but he had jumped out at Carpenters Way and North Florida Avenue, according to affidavits. Alexander said he grabbed the wheel at that point until the Volkswagen crashed.
According to the affidavit, however, Roman admitted to Owusu that Alexander was the driver.
The defendants were checked by Polk County EMS at the scene and medically cleared.
Roman was charged with possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting officer without violence. She remained held without bail on Friday, according to the Polk County Jail website.
Alexander was charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle, aggravated battery on law enforcement officer, aggravated fleeing/leaving scene of crash with injury or property damage, possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia, reckless driving, driving with no valid license (never issued one) and resisting officer without violence. He also had outstanding felony warrants from Hillsborough County on charges of grand theft, burglary of unoccupied dwelling and criminal mischief.
Bail was set for Alexander at $9,900 on the Polk County charges and a hold was put in place for extradition by the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office.
Roman and Guadalupe Shaw, then 12 and 14 years old, respectively, were arrested in October 2013 on felony aggravated stalking charges. The Sheriff’s Office said they were involved in cyberstalking harassment that led to the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick, who jumped to her death on Sept. 10, 2013, from atop an abandoned cement silo.
Both girls were cleared of those charges one month after their arrests, but the case led to a national discourse on the issue of bullying, with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson attempting to pass federal cyberbullying legislation.
During a May 2017 civil trial, a jury found that Roman’s civil rights were not violated when she was arrested by Polk sheriff’s Detective Jonathan McKinney.
Roman’s mother, Roseann Michelle Gill, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tampa in April 2015, nearly two years after Sedwick’s death.