Gulf County Sheriff's Deputy cleared in officer-involved shooting from March

GULF COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A Gulf County Sheriff's Deputy who shot and killed a man in March has been found justified in his actions.

FDLE took over the investigation of an officer-involved shooting in Gulf County in March. (WJHG/WECP)

The sheriff's office announced Tuesday the State Attorney Office's decision.

On March 24, 2019, a deputy shot and killed Joseph Durman, 46, of Kingsport, Tennessee, after he had led multiple agencies on a chase. Durman had rammed into a Tyndall Air Force Base Security Forces vehicle twice. Officers from the Mexico Beach Police Department, Port St. Joe Police Department, and a deputy from the Gulf County Sheriff's Office responded.

Locals say they're happy the deputy's actions were justified and dangerous criminal is off the street.

Officials say when Durman entered Gulf County on Highway 98, the deputy tried to stop the vehicle. The deputy reports Durman pointed a handgun at him when he got out of the vehicle. Officers with the other police departments say the same thing. They say Durman ignored commands from the officers.

They say the deputy fired his gun eight times, hitting Durman five times. Durman died from his injuries. Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators found a black battery pack under Durman's body. Investigators believe the battery pack was pointed at the officers like a gun.

“I firmly believe that this is a suicide by cop incident,” Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison said. “Durman had escaped from a work release program in Alabama and had absconded from his probation in Tennessee. He was driving a stolen vehicle and I believe he had no intentions of going back to prison.”

Investigators say Durman was driving with a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit and had methamphetamines and other illegal drugs in his system.

The State Attorney's Office says there is creditable evidence in its investigation supporting the deputy's use of deadly force was lawful and appropriate under the circumstances.

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