Jean Pedro Pierre, a 42-year-old man of Haitian origin, was shot to death by a Broward County deputy in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. An amateur video recorded by a witness, as well as body-cam and surveillance videos, showed that Pierre attacked Deputy Sean Youngward, who had been summoned to the Sunset Hills Condominium complex on Northwest 21st street. Having gotten a complaint about a disturbance at the scene, Youngward encountered Pierre who then assault the cop and threw him to the ground.

Pierre dragged the officer on the ground until he was confronted by Deputy Steven Briggs. Briggs drew his service pistol and commanded Pierre to desist. On the amateur video, the witness can be heard to say, "They're gonna shoot you man," and added, "Let him go, you're gonna get yourself in bad trouble." Another person said, Think smart, bro.”

 

Youngward tried to break away from Pierre’s grasp of his leg, using a baton. Another witness is heard to say, "Tase him, tase him, don't shoot him." Once Pierre suddenly dropped Youngward’s leg, he then began to run. According to police, Pierre charged Deputy Briggs, who then fired three times. Pierre was not armed. "Deputy Sean Youngward was attacked by Mr. Pierre. He was punched, he was kicked and he was knocked to the ground," Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference. He said on Friday, "It was a violent encounter."

The video shows the deputy entering the apartment, where he was confronted by Pierre.

“Don’t point at me, man. Step back,” the deputy said.

“Step back for who?” Pierre asked.

“Step back,” the deputy said.

“For who? For you?” Pierre said.

“What’s his problem,” the deputy asked.

Deputy Youngward fled the apartment with Pierre in pursuit. In the courtyard, the deputy deployed his taser, which did not stop Pierre. “Back down, man,” the deputy said while retreating. “What is wrong with you? Stand down!”

A surveillance video showed Pierre striking and kicking the deputy, who used a baton to defend himself. “Settle down!” the deputy shouted. “Tell me what is wrong!” Pierre grabbed hold of the deputy’s foot, while the deputy demanded, “Let me go of my leg, sir.” That’s when Deputy Briggs showed up. “Get your hands up! Get down,” the second deputy repeated.

Body-cam video showed that Pierre ignored Briggs’s commands to stop his aggressive behavior. Pierre continued kicking Youngward. After letting him go, Pierre appeared to charge Briggs. Three shots were fired and Pierre fell prone on the ground in the parking lot at the Sunset Hills condominium. “Shots fired,” the deputy said on his radio.


Video showed that Pierre was still alive after the gunfire, while officers approached him with their guns at the ready. The videos showed that one of the officers checked Pierre’s condition. Soon, an officer administered CPR to Pierre. He was taken to a local hospital, where he succumbed on the night of the shooting, December 6.

On December 7, Broward Sheriff’s Office released a statement saying: “Youngward tried to stop the violent attack by deploying his Taser and using his ASP (extending baton). Neither form of less-lethal force stopped Pierre from assaulting him.” It added, “[Deputy] Briggs ordered Pierre to stop. Instead, Pierre charged at [Deputy] Briggs and several shots were fired. Pierre was not armed.”

Police said that Youngward used his Taser but it did not deter Pierre’s attack. "He did everything he could to save himself and to end this confrontation, he was overwhelmed by the superior size and strength of Mr. Pierre," Sheriff Israel said. Israel said of the officer, "He gave several clear concise, lawful and legal orders to Mr. Pierre. Mr. Pierre chose a path of non-compliance."

Pierre’s family and friends expressed surprise at his behavior, as revealed in the videos. "It is sad to hear that there was a shooting in Dade County, then Coral Springs, then here in Broward County," said Israel. "We can do better as a society. It is just a dangerous world that we live in."

The shooting remains under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The officers involved have 

Sheriff Israel said on December 8 that he released the body-cam video to allay concerns and speculation about the shooting on social media. Israel said that the deputy who fired could not allow himself to get into a struggle over his weapon. “Unarmed assailants take guns away from police officers and they are many police officers in the United States of America who tragically have died at the hands of their own weapons,” Israel said.

Pierre was the father of five children. A businessman, he was once a political candidate in his native Haiti. According to Pierre’s daughter, he suffered a stroke a few years ago and had medical problems. Speaking to CBS 4, Shania Pierre said, “I know my dad didn’t mean it.” She told CBS 4, “He didn’t mean it at all. My dad, he had a mental health issue that nobody knew about and I wish the police knew about it before killing him.”

Members of Pierre’s family expressed consternation that one of the responding officers used lethal force to subdue him. “I know (Pierre) made a mistake but he doesn’t deserve to die like that,” said Enoch Pierre, Pedro Pierre’s brother.
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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