The just-released video above is from the Florida State Attorney’s Office, supporting a judge’s ruling that a citizen who opened fire on a man attacking a Lee County deputy last year was justified in using deadly force.
David Katz, U.S. Law Shield of Florida Independent Program Attorney, said of the video release, “Normally, the police work to protect us, but as this video shows, an ordinary citizen had the opportunity to protect a law-enforcement officer under attack.”
Since the original incident, Katz said that nothing has changed regarding the legalities of the case, and that attorney James Phillips’ recap of the facts and the law (see below) were thorough and complete. He said he understood why ordinary citizens would be interested in seeing for themselves how the situation occurred and was resolved.
On Nov. 14, 2016, passerby Ashad Russell saw Edward Strother, 53, of Ocala, pin Deputy First Class Dean Bardes to the ground during a struggle on Exit 123 just off I-75 near Fort Myers. In the new video clips, Russell, who has a concealed weapons permit, can be seen walking up to the two with his pistol. He ordered Strother to stop.
Katz said, “Ashad Russell cautiously approached, gave the assailant an opportunity to stop the attack, then acted to protect the Deputy, likely saving his life.”
The new video shows that Russell approached the fight, drew his firearm, which he legally possessed, and he ordered the suspect to stop what he was doing multiple times. When the suspect didn’t, the good samaritan shot three times, resulting in Strother’s death.
U.S. Law Shield of Florida Independent Program Attorney James Phillips analyzed the shooting after the event, saying, “Florida Statute 790.012 allows a person to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes such force is needed to either prevent death or great bodily harm that is imminent to either himself or to another person, in this situation the officer.”