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Florida county sheriff defends decision not to disclose that he killed a man in self-defense when he was 14


Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a statement Monday he “shot an armed man in self-defense” during his time growing up in a Philadelphia neighborhood “filled with violence and gang activity.”

News of Tony’s involvement in the 1993 shooting came to light when the online news organization Florida Bulldog reported the incident on Saturday after interviewing the family of 18-year-old Hector “Chino” Rodriguez, the man he killed.

“This was the most difficult and painful experience of my life and I have never spoken of it publicly. I worked every day from that time forward to leave the violence that surrounded me in Philadelphia behind,” Tony said in his statement to CNN.

“Surviving this assault inspired me to do work to help others. The world is filled with violent individuals and brave men and women who protect the innocent against their actions. This is the essence of law enforcement and is why I have dedicated my life to service in law enforcement.”

Two Broward County officers terminated for neglect of duty in Parkland shooting response

Tony was initially charged as an adult, but his case was transferred to juvenile court, where a judge found him not guilty and sealed his records, the Florida Bulldog reported.

Tony eventually left Philadelphia and moved to Florida to play football at Florida State University, where he graduated with a degree in criminology.

His career in law enforcement began when he joined the Coral Springs Police Department SWAT team in 2005.

Tony did not mention the shooting when he applied to become a law enforcement officer in Coral Springs or when DeSantis appointed him as sheriff, according to the Florida Bulldog.

Tony told the Tampa Bay Times he has no regrets about not disclosing the shooting because he was never arrested.

“Under Pennsylvania law, they looked at this thing and found no just cause for any type of crime,” he added.

After the Pennsylvania juvenile justice system reviewed the incident, it was “concluded there was no crime and cleared (Tony’s) name,” a spokesperson for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office told CNN.

Becoming the Broward County sheriff

DeSantis appointed Tony to replace Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who the governor suspended for failing “in his duties to keep our families and children safe” during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 14 students and three teachers dead.

Tony, who was appointed in January 2019, became the first black sheriff in Broward County’s history.

“It’s not like he’s my sheriff. I didn’t even know the guy. It’s not like he was a political ally of mine,” DeSantis said during a press conference Monday,

“The people I talked to in Broward have been pleased with what he’s doing. That’s ultimately a decision that the people in Broward can make. It’s not going to be anything I’m going to be getting involved in.”

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told CNN before his appointment as sheriff, they completed a level 1 background check on Tony.

The agency included a court query with their request and found no court records in Pennsylvania. The FDLE also conducted a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) check and found no sealed records.

When asked if Tony was obligated to disclose his involvement in the shooting, the spokesperson said they could not answer that question.

The governor said one of the reasons he appointed Tony was because he liked that the sheriff “had come from real tough upbringing” and was a great officer.

Tony is running against Israel in a heated race for the 2020 election of the next Broward sheriff. Both candidates have received no-confidence votes from their deputies.

CNN’s Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt contributed to this report.



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A Florida police chief is on leave after linking a sheriff deputy’s death from coronavirus to ‘homosexual behavior’



A woman who answered Engle’s phone said he was not available to comment.

Florida Fraternal Order of Police chief of staff Mike Tucker wrote the letter to Davie town administrator Richard Lemack based on reports from members of the Davie Police Department.

Tucker wrote that the trouble began after officers asked Engle about the department’s safety protocol during the pandemic.

In response, Tucker said, Engle “belittled” them during a patrol briefing and ordered them to stand in formation, “like cadets back in the police academy.” Then, Tucker said, he yelled at the members for raising “baseless” concerns about the virus.

That’s when he began to make derogatory remarks about Deputy Bennett, Tucker said.

Tucker said members of the Davie Police Department told him that Engle said something about Bennett’s “backstory” and insinuated that Bennett contracted and died from coronavirus because he was a “homosexual who attended homosexual events.”

“The reported inference was that it was because of this homosexual lifestyle that Deputy Bennett first contracted a serious underlying disease which aggravated the Covid-19 virus and lead to his death,” Tucker wrote in the letter.

Later, Tucker said, Engle attempted to “walk back some of his comments” about Bennett in an email to the department. Engle told officers to contact him directly with concerns, “something intimidated subordinates would obviously not do, especially in the wake of this incident,” Tucker wrote.

“If true, and remarks were made to somehow correlate the sexual orientation of Deputy Bennett to his passing from Covid-19, (this) is something that remains confusing for us and frankly would be inappropriate at best and at worst, discriminatory and absolutely unacceptable,” Tucker said later in a video release.
Engle was placed on administrative leave over the weekend, pending an investigation of the allegations against him, according to a statement from Lemack, the town administrator.

Fiancé: Bennett had no underlying conditions before Covid-19 diagnosis

Bennett, a 12-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, was a school resource officer who was engaged to marry Jonathan Frey later this year. The Broward Sheriff’s Office described him as an “out and proud gay law enforcement deputy” who protected and mentored the students he worked with.

Frey called the reported comments “completely false, homophobic and slanderous” in a statement to CNN affiliate WPLG.
In a previous interview with WPLG, Frey said Bennett had no underlying health conditions before his diagnosis. He developed a slight headache days before and eventually had trouble breathing, so Frey drove him to the emergency room. That was the last time the two saw each other.

“This is not the end of who he is,” Frey said. “I care very much about him. He was the love of my life and I know his legacy is going to live on, one way or another. But he was a beautiful soul.”

CNN’s Alta Spells and Pamela Wessmann contributed to this report.





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California deputy on leave after violently removing carjacking victim from vehicle, sheriff says



Body camera video from last month’s incident begins mid-chase, during which authorities say David Ward, 52, twice stopped for deputies only to flee again. Speeds at one point reach 73 mph before a deputy, trailed by two officers from the Sebastopol Police Department, stop Ward at a dead end in Bloomfield, about a 30-minute drive southwest of Santa Rosa.

Deputies Charlie Blount and Jason Little, veterans with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, try to extract Ward from the car, but they struggle because Ward’s legs are apparently pinned beneath the steering wheel.

Both deputies exclaim that Ward bites them during the arrest attempt, and the body camera footage shows Blount pull Ward’s head out of the car window by his hair. Just as Little deploys his Taser for the first time, Blount appears to smash Ward’s head into the top of the car door.

After deputies and officers remove Ward from the car, Deputy Nick Jax informs his counterparts that Ward had no reason to run because he was a carjacking victim, not a car thief — to which Blount responds, “Oh well.”

Seconds later, the body camera video shows police saying “He’s not breathing anymore,” and Blount orders another law enforcement officer to begin CPR.

Officer on leave

Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick handed Blount a notice of termination, and the deputy will remain on administrative leave until the investigation is complete and all appeals have been exhausted, the sheriff said in a Friday video statement.

“What our deputies did not know at the time was that Mr. Ward was not only the owner of the car, but the victim of the earlier carjacking,” Essick said. “The suspect had pistol-whipped him and stole his car. Mr. Ward had recovered the car but failed to report it. It remains a mystery as to why he fled from our deputies.”

Harry Stern, who is representing Blount, said Ward is responsible for his own death because he took “bizarre actions” that left deputies thinking he was an armed carjacker rather than a carjacking victim.

Stern said that it is his understanding that medical evidence will show Ward had a pre-existing medical condition and methamphetamine in his system. There are no indications of trauma to Ward’s neck, the lawyer said. (Police have not said whether Ward was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the Marin County Coroner’s Office is investigating the cause of death.)

“I am extremely disappointed in Sheriff Essick’s reaction to this unfortunate incident. I view his hasty decision as a product of panic, political expediency and hindsight,” Stern said in a statement that called Blount’s actions “entirely reasonable.”

Reached for comment, Izaak Schwaiger, an attorney for Ward’s mother, said, “David was well-loved in his community. When the time for mourning has passed, justice will be done upon those responsible.”

Ward flees multiple times

Early November 27, an off-duty Santa Rosa police officer reported seeing a vehicle, which belonged to Ward and had been reported stolen, in unincorporated Sonoma County, police said. A carjacker had pistol-whipped Ward and stolen the vehicle three days earlier, Essick said.

Ward, a Petaluma resident, was driving the car just before 6 a.m. (9 a.m. ET) when Little gave chase, police said.

With the two Sebastopol officers in their cars behind him, Little attempted to stop Ward between Sebastopol and Bloomfield.

“Deputy Little could not see inside of the vehicle and did not know how many or the identity of the occupants inside,” a police statement said. “The suspect in the initial theft had been in possession of a firearm, and the vehicle was still reported as stolen.”

Ward stopped but then fled, police said, and the pursuit continued. Little tried to perform a special maneuver to stop Ward’s car, but Ward stopped only momentarily, and the chase resumed, according to police.

The body camera video begins before the second stop. In it, Little — using his driver’s door as cover and pointing his gun at Ward’s car — orders Ward to show his hands four times before Ward takes off again.

After a seven-minute chase, the deputy and officers box in Ward on a dead end road in Bloomfield, police said.

Officers say they were bitten

Again, Little uses his car door as cover and aims his weapon at Ward’s car, ordering the driver, “Show me your f***ing hands. Show me your hands. Turn off the f***ing car.”

The body camera’s view is occasionally blocked, and it’s not possible to see exactly how Ward responds at all times, but on multiple occasions, he lifts his hands in the air and lowers them, leaving them obscured by the car door.

The officers positioned off-camera can also be heard demanding to see Ward’s hands.

Blount arrives and tells Little, “Let me get up there, if you want.”

Little responds, “Wait, wait, wait,” as Blount approaches the car, tells Ward not to move and attempts to open the driver’s door, which appears to be locked. He tells Ward to unlock it. It looks as if Ward moves to unlock the door, but Blount indicates that it remains locked.

“I can’t believe this. I’m the injured party,” Ward says after rolling down his window.

“Don’t move your f***ing hands,” Little tells him.

“Why you f***ing harass me all the time?” Ward asks.

Blount orders Ward to give him his hands and tells his fellow officers, “Get him the f*** out of the car,” as he tries to pull Ward out of the window, but officers are heard saying Ward’s legs are pinned under the steering wheel.

Ward cries in pain, saying, “Hey, hey, hey” and “My legs.” Little tells Blount that Ward is stuck, but the tussle carries on.

As the deputies continue to try to get Ward out of the car, Blount exclaims that Ward bit him. Moments later, Little says Ward bit him, too.

A head slam, Taser and ‘carotid restraint’

Another policeman tells Blount and Little that Ward is stuck, and Blount grabs Ward by his hair in an attempt to pull Ward out of the car through the driver’s window.

Blount pulls Ward’s head away from car before appearing to slam it into the top of the driver’s door, just as Little deploys the Taser. Ward yelps in pain, groans and says something inaudible on the body camera footage.

Blount then placed “one of his arms around the neck of Ward and attempted to administer a carotid restraint,” police said in a statement. A carotid restraint targets the arteries that carry blood to the brain and neck.

“The deputies and officers used personal body weapons and struck Ward several times in an attempt to gain compliance and remove him from his vehicle,” the police statement says.

One of the Sebastopol officers breaks the passenger window with a baton, and Ward is removed from the car, placed on the ground and handcuffed.

After removing the Taser prongs, Little utters an expletive and says, “He broke my skin,” referencing the alleged bite. Later, Blount says, “He didn’t quite break the skin on my arm, but he bit me f***ing hard.”

“You’ve got some blood on your pocket,” another deputy tells Blount.

“That’s his,” Blount says, motioning to Ward.

‘He had no reason to run’

After Deputy Nick Jax tells his colleagues that the man in cuffs “is the owner of this car. That’s David Ward,” Little asks why Ward ran from police.

“I don’t know why he ran,” Jax says. “He had no reason to run, but I was out with him earlier, like two hours ago, at his house. … Obviously, he somehow made contact with the guy (who allegedly stole the car) and got it. But he was here two hours ago, and this is him.”

“Oh well,” Blount says.

“There’s no reason for him to have done this,” Jax says.

A policeman off-camera reports Ward is no longer breathing. Blount tells an officer to start CPR.

An ambulance arrives about 6:20 a.m. and transports Ward to Petaluma Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later, police said.

The Santa Rosa Police Department is leading the investigation. The carjacking is the subject of a separate investigation.

“If you watched the body-worn camera video closely, you may be concerned by what you saw. So was I,” Sheriff Essick said in last week’s video statement. “The way Deputy Blount handles the entire situation is extremely troubling. As a result, I’ve served Deputy Blount a notice of termination.”

A notice of termination is the first step in a termination process governed by civil service rules, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Misti Wood told CNN.

Essick did not say whether Little — who has been with the department for 17 years, 12 as a deputy and five as a correctional deputy — or any other officers will face discipline. Blount has been with the sheriff’s office for more than 19 years and previously served less than two years as a Santa Rosa police officer.

“Charlie Blount has served the people of Sonoma County for over 20 years and honorably served in the military for 20 years before that,” his lawyer said. “His actions during this arrest were entirely reasonable under the circumstances known, keeping in mind that videos of uses of force, even when justified, are often upsetting and graphic.”



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Bread delivery driver stopped armed robbery at Hardee’s, sheriff says 




CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. – A man delivering bread to a fast food restaurant stepped in to stop a robbery before authorities tracked down the suspect. 

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill said Joseph Chilton was delivering bread to the Hardee’s on Anvil Block Road around 6:30 a.m. Saturday when he saw employees running out the back. 

It turned out to be an armed robbery in progress at the restaurant. 

The sheriff’s office said the suspect, identified as Damario Kentrell Parrish, jumped across the counter and pointed a weapon at an employee, demanding cash.

“This young man [had] been here twice. The first, he hurt my employees. The second time, he jumped over and put the gun physically to me. I just did what he asked me to do,” said employee Mary Ann Reynolds. 

When Parrish began to leave, Chilton grabbed a gun from his truck and ran back in to help the woman, according to witnesses. He shot Parrish, but the suspect was able to run away. 

“The bread man put his gun up. The robber put his gun up and the bread man shot at him four times,” said manager Keysa Roberts. “His car was here, but he was able to stumble off into the woods.”

Deputies and Clayton County police tracked Parrish down to a house in Conley on Jewel Terrance Road, where Hill said children were also inside.

SWAT was called to the scene, but the children were out safely before they arrived. Shortly after that, Parrish came out and surrendered. He was taken to the hospital where he’s recovering from his injuries before he is taken to jail. 

Hill said he was “so impressed with Chilton” for “defending those who could not defend themselves” that he made him an honorary deputy and inducted him into The Sheriff’s Posse Hall of Fame.

“They got him thanks to our bread man,” said employee Helene Berkowitz. 





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Woman opens fire on cell tower workers hundreds of feet in the air, sheriff says




ALEXANDER COUNTY, N.C. – Cell tower workers — the brave souls who climb hundreds of feet into the air to make sure your cellphone works — have a terrifying enough job, but police said an Alexander County woman made it even scarier by shooting at them this weekend.

Susan Moose has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon after court documents state she fired a .22 revolver at a cellphone tower worker.

Channel 9 got a hold of the 911 call made from the tower, where a three-person crew was doing work south of Taylorsville.

“I’ve got a lady across the street that’s been yelling and raising hell since we’ve been here — that we’re on her property — and now there’s shots that have been fired,” the caller told a dispatcher. “I’ve got two guys on the tower.”



Deputies said when they arrived, Moose was armed with two axes and had barricaded herself inside her house across the street from the tower.

Authorities were able to eventually get her out of the home. She was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest.

Sheriff Chris Bowman said Moose has contacted deputies previously over concerns about the tower.

[ALSO READ: 10-year-old found dead was shot by friend while playing, deputies say]

“She’s hearing voices from that tower, they’re sending signals — this type of thing,” Bowman told Channel 9. “It concerns me she has a weapon and actually discharged that weapon.”

None of the workers were struck by the bullets.

“I think they were pretty scared, and they had reason to be scared when they called our 911 center,” Bowman said.



(Susan Moose)

Moose is also accused of breaking into a neighbor’s home.

The sheriff said Moose’s weapons are no longer in her possession.

She is scheduled to be in court on Dec. 16. 





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Alabama sheriff killed: Suspect is sheriff deputy’s son


William Chase Johnson was arrested around midnight Saturday after returning to the same gas station where Lowndes County Sheriff Williams was shot, Sgt. Steve Jarrett said. A handgun was taken from him, Jarrett said.

Johnson is currently being held without bond in Elmore County Jail.

Williams was responding to a call at a gas station when he was killed. The Montgomery Advertiser, citing law enforcement and a witness, reported Williams was shot when he approached a truck to ask the occupant to turn down loud music.

Lowndes County Sheriff "Big John" Williams
“We in Alabama’s law enforcement community mourn the loss of a dedicated brother,” Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Hal Taylor said in a Sunday statement. “Not only was Lowndes County Sheriff ‘Big John’ Williams a committed man of the law, but he was kind and loved by many.”

Williams is the fifth Alabama law enforcement officer of the state to die from gunfire in the line of duty in the past year, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said.

“Serving the public in the role of a peace officer is a difficult calling, fraught with peril, yet thankfully many Alabama men and women choose to answer the call, often time putting their lives in danger to protect us,” Marshall said in a statement.

The governor said Williams, through his time in the US Marines and as a law enforcement official, “dedicated his life to keeping other people safe.”

“He will be remembered as a consummate professional and pillar of his community,” Gov. Kay Ivey said.



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Will Lewis’ attorney has filed an appeal, what’s next for the office of Greenville County Sheriff?


(Video above: Judge reads sentence in Will Lewis trial)Convicted Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis was sentenced to one year in prison Friday after a jury found him guilty of misconduct of a public officer. Lewis’ attorney has filed an appeal and he’s also asking for bond in the meantime.>>For full coverage from the trial, click here. Lewis arrived at Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia Friday afternoon, according to South Carolina Department of Corrections spokeswoman Chrysti Shain. His mugshot was released Sunday. All inmates are taken to that facility for an initial evaluation. She said the mental and medical evaluation process could take up to 45 days.“We will take every precaution to ensure his safety,” Shain said.Shortly after the sentencing Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order permanently removing Lewis from the office of sheriff. Johnny Mack Brown will remain the interim sheriff until a special election is held, the order said. The Greenville County Elections Commission said the filing period will begin Nov. 15 and continue through Nov. 23 at noon. The primary election will be held Jan. 7.If a run-off is needed to determine the candidate for a particular political party, that run-off is scheduled for Jan. 21.A petition candidate would have to submit a petition of 10,000 valid signatures to the Greenville County Voter Registration and Elections office no later than noon, Jan. 9.The special election will be held March 10.The regular election for Sheriff of Greenville County will be held Nov. 3., 2020.

(Video above: Judge reads sentence in Will Lewis trial)

Convicted Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis was sentenced to one year in prison Friday after a jury found him guilty of misconduct of a public officer.

Lewis’ attorney has filed an appeal and he’s also asking for bond in the meantime.

>>For full coverage from the trial, click here.

Lewis arrived at Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia Friday afternoon, according to South Carolina Department of Corrections spokeswoman Chrysti Shain. His mugshot was released Sunday.

SC Department of Corrections

Will Lewis

All inmates are taken to that facility for an initial evaluation. She said the mental and medical evaluation process could take up to 45 days.

“We will take every precaution to ensure his safety,” Shain said.

Shortly after the sentencing Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order permanently removing Lewis from the office of sheriff.

Johnny Mack Brown will remain the interim sheriff until a special election is held, the order said.

The Greenville County Elections Commission said the filing period will begin Nov. 15 and continue through Nov. 23 at noon.

The primary election will be held Jan. 7.

If a run-off is needed to determine the candidate for a particular political party, that run-off is scheduled for Jan. 21.

A petition candidate would have to submit a petition of 10,000 valid signatures to the Greenville County Voter Registration and Elections office no later than noon, Jan. 9.

The special election will be held March 10.

The regular election for Sheriff of Greenville County will be held Nov. 3., 2020.



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