Far more questions than answers in deputy-involved fatal shooting of armed motorist over weekend in Osteen

6th time in 3 years VCSO sworn personnel has resorted to use of deadly force

A motorist is shot dead by Volusia County Sheriff's deputy in Osteen, Fla, Saturday night / Headline Surfer®VCSO spokesman Gary Davidson / Headline Surfer®Photos for Headline Surfer® / 
Volusia County Sheriff's personnel closed a stretch of SR 415 in Osteen in both directions well into Sunday after an armed motorist was shot to death late Saturday night by a sheriff's deputy under circumstances with vague details. In the inset is agency spokesman Gary Davidson who gave TV news interviews Sunday from the county administration building in DeLand on the deadly shooting.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A motorist was shot and killed by one of two deputies after he refused to put down a gun he reached for while seated in his car on the side of the road in the 1400 block of SR 415 in rural Osteen, a Volusia County Sheriff's spokesman said, but a full 24 hours later on Sunday night, there were far more questions than answers as to the use of deadly force.

Questions such as the victim's name, age and home community, what specific type of gun he had, what kind of threatening or menacing actions he took to merit being shot to death or even what kind of car he was seated in before the deadly confrontation.

The shooting occurred shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday along the 1400-block of North State Road 415 in Osteen. "That’s where two deputies encountered what initially appeared to be an abandoned 2-door passenger car on the side of the road," agency spokesman Gary Davidson said in a press release emailed to Headline Surfer® and other Central Florida media outlets. "But when the deputies approached the vehicle, they saw a man in the driver’s seat."

Davidson continued. "Then they saw a handgun in the back seat, within reach of the occupant, with one deputy posted on each side of the car, they immediately ordered the man to remain still and not reach for the gun. But instead, he took off his shirt and draped it over the driver’s side window in an apparent attempt to obstruct the deputies’ view. "

Davidson added, "Moments later, the shirt started falling from the window and the man was in the back seat holding the gun. When he refused to put it down and fearing that he was about to shoot, Deputy Miguel Kent opened fire with his duty weapon at 10:57 p.m. and struck the man. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:10 p.m. and hasn’t been identified yet."

The sheriff's spokesman did not explain how much time had elapsed from the time the deputies saw the man inside as to how putting up a shirt to block the driver's side deputy would have prevented the other deputy from seeing what he was up to or if any attempt was made to try and open the car doors. Nor was it explained how he draped the shirt over the window unless it was partially rolled down. 

And Davidson did not say if the deputies explained whether the motorist even heard their commands. Davidson said Deputy Kent, 37 and with the VCSO since October 2003, has been placed on temporary leave with pay, which is standard procedure. 

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is responding to the scene to investigate, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.   Davidson did not say in the press release why the victim's name, age or home community was not released.

Nor did he provide the name of the second deputy nor whether he, too, drew his gun. The name of the  second deputy was released in response to an email request from Headline Surfer® as Deputy Djhon Knight. Subsequent requests for information and clarification on the circumstances by Headline Surfer® to Davidson and a second agency spokesman, Andrew Gant, went unanswered.

On the Sheriff's Office Facebook page, the second deputy was described by a poster as a "trainee," which is plausible since road deputies typically drive alone on shift patrols.  

With this being the sixth deputy-involved use of deadly force, Davidson made himself available to Orlando TV news crews after the last killing.

One of Davidson's first statements before the TV cameras was "Certainly the last thing any law enforcement officer wants to do is take a life."

After a TV reporter set the scene for viewers where the motorist apparently reached for a gun," Davidson, a civilian PIO who reports to Sheriff Ben Johnson, continued, "At this point, it was either him or us. The deputy did exactly what he was trained to do. He did what he had to do to defend himself and the other deputy."

The same press release Davidson emailed to the media outlets  was posted on the VCSO Facebook page, prompting one angry poster, who identified himself as Paul Carpenter to write: Another murder! U can't be scared and shoot first! Any other person would be charged with murder. (Expletive) cowards. Sheriffs are not juries, u don't get to decide the fate of people's lives for the crimes they commit. Everyone has the right to due process!

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.