A Florida sheriff’s deputy was saved from possible death as a bystander pulled out his licensed handgun and killed the suspect, who was beating the sheriff relentlessly on the pavement beside a Florida state highway.
On Tuesday, a Florida district attorney found the shooting of the suspect justified and indemnified the good Samaritan.
The original incident occurred when Sheriff Dean Bardes, a 12 year veteran, was assisting a Florida Highway Patrol trooper at the scene of an auto accident at 9:30 a.m., Nov. 14, on Florida’s Interstate I-75, when a car swerved dangerously close to the officers in the left lane at about 100 m.p.h., nearly running both officers down.
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On the scene, Sheriff Deputy Bardes believed the driver’s action was intentional and pursued the suspect, traveling southbound.
Sheriff Bardes eventually stopped the suspect vehicle at an off-ramp. When he approached the suspect, now known as Edward Strother, the suspect jumped out of his car and immediately attacked the officer, knocking him down and straddling him on the highway pavement, while continuously punching him in the face.
Ashad Russell, a passerby who witnessed the attack on the officer and who has a concealed weapons permit, rushed to help Bardes as Strother attempted to grab at the officer’s firearm.
Deputy Bardes pleaded with Russell to help him, so Russell told Strother to stop immediately or he would shoot.
When Strother ignored Russell’s orders and reached for the officer’s gun, Russell fired at Strother, hitting him three times in the neck and clavicle. Strother was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
A witness, Kimberly Jenkinson, who was driving by at the time, said to local news station, WINK, that the attacker “just started punching him and hitting and hitting and hitting. I was afraid for the police officer. I thought he was going to kill him.”
Another passerby took a photo that depicts Bardes’ predicament, showing the deputy near the open door of the suspect’s car and the suspect’s right hand ready to deliver another punch.
— Nicholas Garber (@NicholasGarber) November 15, 2016
On Tuesday, the Florida district attorney’s office ruled the shooting legally justified; Russell had a legal right to stand his ground under Florida law due to his using “defensive force” and having “a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm” to the deputy, which made him immune to criminal prosecution in the case.
Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott called Russell a hero at a time when the nation has been faced with what he called “an increasingly alarming rise in attacks and killings perpetrated on cops.”
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 135 officers were killed in the line of duty in 2016, the highest number in five years.
H/T: Washington Post
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