The State Attorney’s Office has decided not to press charges against two sheriff’s deputies involved in the death of a man last year. The deputies used deadly force after the man fought with them and took one deputy’s Taser. Chief Assistant State Attorney Walter Forgie stated that the use of force was reasonable and lawful under the circumstances. The deceased has been identified as Edwards Charles Townsend III. The decision was based on an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. shooting-death-in-the-villages/70523961007/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Austin L. Miller reported
The State Attorney’s Office has announced that it will not pursue criminal charges against two sheriff’s deputies involved in the death of a man last year. According to reports, the man had a physical altercation with one of the deputies and managed to take her Taser. Chief Assistant State Attorney Walter Forgie stated in his report that the deputies’ use of deadly force was justified and lawful under the circumstances. This decision was based on an investigation conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The incident took place on December 29, 2022, in The Villages, Florida. Deputies were called to the scene to address a dispute. The caller, identified as Edwards Charles Townsend III, was reported to be uncooperative and threatening to use a gun. When the deputies attempted to detain Townsend, he resisted and a struggle ensued. During the altercation, Townsend struck multiple deputies and managed to grab one deputy’s Taser. In response, another deputy fired a single gunshot, hitting Townsend in the back.
Townsend was taken to the hospital and unfortunately passed away on January 24, 2023. If he had survived, he would have faced charges for depriving a law enforcement official of means of protection or communication, as well as resisting without violence.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office conducted its own investigation, with Detective Joseph Miller noting in his report that Townsend had called 911 requesting a deputy to retrieve his car keys. Townsend made references to guns and expressed his intention to shoot individuals. It was later revealed that these individuals were his family members who were present at the scene.
Miller reviewed footage from the body cameras worn by the deputies involved. The videos showed the male deputy attempting to detain Townsend while the female deputy arrived as backup. Both deputies gave clear commands to Townsend to comply, but he continued to resist. The female deputy’s Taser was activated, and she repeatedly yelled that Townsend had taken it. Eventually, a gunshot was fired, and the situation de-escalated. Both deputies then provided aid to Townsend and called for further assistance.
Townsend’s mother, Lissa Hostomosky, stated in an interview that she witnessed one of the deputies punching her son like a punching bag before they went to the ground. However, video evidence showed that both deputies were attempting to detain Townsend.
Throughout the investigation, Townsend refused to be interviewed by law enforcement. A search warrant was obtained to obtain a DNA sample from him, but he was unable to speak at the time. The DNA sample was sent for testing to compare it with evidence collected at the scene.
The decision not to pursue criminal charges against the deputies was based on the belief that their use of deadly force was justified under Florida statutes. The State Attorney’s Office determined that the deputies acted reasonably to defend themselves and others from bodily harm. The decision has been met with criticism from the family’s lawyer, who believes that the use of deadly force was excessive.
Overall, the case highlights the difficulties faced by law enforcement officers in high-stress situations and the challenges in determining the appropriate use of force..