Video recently released by Florida authorities shows the moment a passerby fatally shot a man attacking a Florida deputy in a November incident.
On Nov. 14, Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy Dean Bardes was being attacked by 53-year-old Edward Strother when the deputy pleaded for the help of a witness, who shot and killed the suspect, according to a Lee County Sheriff’s Office police report. Strother was punching Bardes and reaching for his firearm, said Florida Chief Assistant State Attorney Amira Fox.
Bardes had been assisting two Florida Highway Patrol troopers with a traffic crash on I-75 when he observed a gray Toyota Camry driving by at a “high rate of speed,” according to the police report. When Bardes attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the car, the driver stopped in the roadway and pointed a gun toward Bardes before continuing southbound, the police report states.
Strother attacked Bardes after he eventually came to a stop on an off-ramp of I-75. Witness Ashad Russell saw the suspect jump “over the driver’s door” of Bardes’ patrol car before he “landed on top of him” and began “beating” him violently, Russell told police, the report states.
The deputy called out to Russell to “please shoot him” as he protected his gun from Strother’s reach, according to the police report. Russell gave “numerous commands” for Strother to get off of Bardes, the report states.
Fearing for Bardes’ life, Russell, who was in possession of a concealed weapon, “fired three rounds, striking the suspect,” the report states. According to one witness, Strother told Russell, “you better kill me” after he was shot a second time, the state attorney’s office confirmed to ABC News.
The third shot — to Strother’s neck — was presumed to be the fatal shot, the state attorney’s office said.
After the shooting, Russell, who advised that he was in shock, dropped his gun to the ground and waited in his vehicle for law enforcement to arrive, the report states. Russell, who had a concealed weapons permit, was not charged in Strother’s death due to Florida’s “stand your ground” law, according to the state attorney’s office.
Bardes only suffered superficial wounds from the encounter.
In a statement released by his attorney, Russell clarified that he is “not a law enforcement officer” and is “simply a member of the Southwest Florida community.”
“Mr. Russell, along with many others, witnessed a man violently remove Deputy Bardes from his marked patrol car and attack him,” the statement reads. “Despite multiple commands from Deputy Bardes and Mr. Russell to stop, this man did not, and Mr. Russell intervened.”
Witnesses sitting in their car on I-75 in Fort Myers recorded the deadly encounter on cellphone video.
The footage begins with an image of Russell pointing his gun at Strother, who was sitting on top of Bardes in the middle of the road. After Russell fires the gun, Strother can be seen lying immobile in the street.
At the time, a warrant was out for Strother’s arrest after he missed a pretrial hearing on Nov. 8, stemming from an incident in which he allegedly attacked a hospital security guard, according to the state attorney’s office.
Neighbors had recently noticed Strother acting “bizarre” and “impaired,” the state attorney’s office said. His strange behavior included “yelling … and singing,” according to the state attorney’s office.
Strother’s family said he suffered from mental breaks and severe depression, the state attorney’s office said.
Two days after the incident, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott wrote on Facebook that “two heroes met on I-75” that day.
“While they had never met before, one would save the [other’s] life,” Scott wrote, thanking Russell for his actions.