Sunday, December 17, 2017
Public safety

Hernando deputy cleared in shooting of high school football player

BROOKSVILLE — Prosecutors on Monday cleared a Hernando County sheriff's deputy of criminal wrongdoing in the February shooting of a Nature Coast Technical High School student.

The decision from Brad King, state attorney for the 5th Judicial Circuit, was based on his office's review of the investigation into the shooting by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The student, Joseph "Joey" Berrios, 18, attacked the deputy, Ramona Fuhs, as she tried to leave her patrol car, the prosecutors' report said.

Because he kept attacking her and threatening her as she tried to retreat, the report said, it was reasonable for her to think that "her life was in danger and … to use deadly force."

The report gave this account of the incident:

Fuhs, 41, was responding to a call about an "irrational person" on the evening of Feb. 27 when she encountered Berrios, a standout football player at the school, standing in the middle of the street near his parents' home in Spring Hill.

As Fuhs tried to get out of her squad car, Berrios approached the driver's side, grabbed the door and hit her with it. When Fuhs got out of the car and tried to retreat, Berrios lunged at her and hit her head and shoulders repeatedly.

Fuhs continued to back away and turned to prevent Berrios from reaching her gun and, finally, fired two shots, hitting Berrios in the leg and buttocks. Fuhs was taken to the hospital with neck and shoulder injuries. She was treated and placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure after deputies fire their weapons on duty.

Berrios underwent surgery, and his parents posted bail before he was released from the hospital.

The state attorney's report also stated that earlier in the evening Berrios had attended a softball game at Nature Coast with friends. Witnesses said that he had seemed distraught about family issues, was crying and very "emotional." At some point after the game Berrios smoked marijuana and became increasingly erratic.

As a friend tried to walk Berrios home, he began arguing with the friend and began punching him until the friend left him. Berrios continued on, knocking on the doors of several homes and trying to enter at least one. Two of the homeowners called to report his behavior to the Sheriff's Office.

According to the report, Berrios told medical personnel that earlier that night he had taken "Triple C," a street name for a nonprescription medication that if abused, is said to cause hallucinations, convulsions and agitated behavior.

Berrios who does not have a criminal record, was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer. His attorney, Peyton Hyslop, said he did not see anything on the report that was unanticipated.

Fuhs, who is in her second stint with the agency, has been a full-time deputy since November 2011 and returned to duty in March after Sheriff Al Nienhuis reviewed the FDLE investigation.

Chief Deputy Michael Mauer said the state attorney's report will be considered along with other documents as part of an ongoing internal affairs inquiry. He expects this to be completed by the end of the week.

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

Comments

Two die in head-on crash on Gunn Highway in Odessa

ODESSA — Hillsborough County deputies are investigating a head-on crash on Gunn Highway that killed two and sent a child to the hospital Saturday afternoon.About 12: 45 p.m., Terry Lee Bronschidle, 70, of Tampa was driving his Chevy Traverse south on...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Firefighters injured after early-morning blaze at Tampa strip mall

Firefighters injured after early-morning blaze at Tampa strip mall

TAMPA — Three firefighters were injured early Saturday morning while battling a fire at a strip mall on W Waters Avenue, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.Firefighters said the blaze started around 2:45 p.m. in the attic of L.A. Nail Supply, located at ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

LARGO — A Pinellas sheriff’s child protective investigator has been fired and could face criminal charges after an investigation found she made a child custody recommendation to a judge as a favor to a friend.Jayne Johnson, who has worked for the She...
Published: 12/15/17
Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

DOVER — Two Plant City men who ran from deputies and shot a dog were captured after a brief pursuit Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.They ditched a stolen car, ran away on foot, crossed through several yards and then tr...
Published: 12/15/17

Tampa bicyclist, 52, dies after being rear-ended by vehicle; no charges

TAMPA — A 52-year-old man riding a bicycle was killed early Friday when he was struck from behind by a car in Seminole Heights, according to Tampa police.The incident took place at about 12:15 a.m. Wayne Kersh, 52, was riding his bicycle in the eastb...
Published: 12/15/17
After third fire at former Ybor City bathhouse, arrest is made

After third fire at former Ybor City bathhouse, arrest is made

TAMPA — A 46-year-old man was arrested Friday and accused of setting fire to a vacant Ybor City bathhouse hit by arson at least two other times earlier this year.Two Tampa police officers spotted smoke from the vacant building at 1512 E Eighth Ave. a...
Published: 12/15/17

FHP: Overturned pick-up slowed traffic on northbound Howard Frankland

ST. PETERSBURG — A pick-up truck towing a car onto the northbound Howard Frankland Bridge overturned and crashed on the shoulder, causing back-ups for motorists trying to get to Tampa, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The incident was reported...
Published: 12/15/17
New video shows cows beaten and burned at Florida dairy farm

New video shows cows beaten and burned at Florida dairy farm

The Miami Beach-based Animal Recovery Mission has released a video from its undercover abuse investigation at a Central Florida dairy farmThe graphic video, with disturbing images of cows cruelly being beaten, speared, stabbed and burned, was shot by...
Published: 12/15/17

Missing Child Alert canceled for Port St. Lucie girl, 17

A Florida Missing Child Alert has been canceled for a 17-year-old Port St. Lucie girl who was last seen on Thursday.The case involving Heaven Flores has been resolved, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Published: 12/15/17

Hudson pedestrian killed while crossing U.S. 19

HUDSON — A Hudson man was killed Thursday night while crossing U.S. 19.According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 59-year-old Gerald Berube was crossing the northbound lanes of U.S. 19 north of Stahl Drive around 6:40 p.m. when he walked into the path ...
Published: 12/15/17