Pasco sheriff explains killing of suspect, who was unarmed

Jerry Dwight Brown, 41, was fatally shot during an undercover prescription pill deal.
Jerry Dwight Brown, 41, was fatally shot during an undercover prescription pill deal.
Published Jul. 3, 2014

ZEPHYRHILLS — After two Pasco detectives shot and killed a man in an undercover drug bust Tuesday, they searched him and found he wasn't armed.

But Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said in a news conference Wednesday that the detectives didn't know that when they moved in to arrest Jerry Dwight Brown outside Big Ben's Used Tires, at 4128 Gall Blvd. They ordered him to show his hands, Nocco said, but Brown moved in a way that made them fear for their lives.

"When they said 'Show me your hands,' the suspect should've showed us his hands," he said. "He didn't."

Nocco wouldn't go into detail about how Brown moved, but he said any failure to comply indicates a threat.

Brown, 41, of Lakeland was the subject of a monthslong investigation into dealing prescription pills. That's what he was doing with an undercover detective Tuesday, Nocco said.

The detective drove up outside the tire shop and bought a "large" amount of pills from Brown, he said. When the deal was done, detectives in waiting — he said their gear clearly indicated they were with the Sheriff's Office — moved in to arrest him. Brown then moved in a way that made them think he was going to hurt the undercover detective, who was still in his car.

Two detectives shot Brown. It's not clear how many times. They tried to aid him along with paramedics, but he died.

The State Attorney's Office and the Sheriff's Office Internal Affairs unit are investigating the incident. Per policy, both detectives who shot Brown are on paid leave.

The fact that Brown wasn't armed isn't a concern, though, Nocco said. His criminal history included charges of armed robbery and grand theft.

"Nobody ever goes into these buy-busts thinking they're going to have to shoot somebody," he said. "That's not the intention."

Whether the shooting was lawful will be determined by the State Attorney's Office, Sheriff's Office spokesman Eddie Daniels said.

Meanwhile, detectives continue to investigate Big Ben's Used Tires, which Nocco said is a known spot for drug deals. The detectives who shot Brown will undergo counseling.

"When you talk about post-traumatic stress," Nocco said, "this is one of the things that will come to your mind immediately."

Contact Gage Bentley at (727) 869-6250 or Follow @gagebentley.