New Details into Deputy Involved Shooting Tells a Slightly Different Story
Last updated 3/13/2023 at 1:01am
BROOKSVILLE – Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis held a press conference today to discuss the details into last month's deputy involved shooting that injured both the victim and suspect in a domestic dispute.
Nienhuis provided a detailed account of the incident that occurred on the evening of January 29th at 10070 Cobb Road. According to Nienhuis, the suspect and victim were involved in an ongoing domestic dispute and called the Sheriff's Office several times before the shooting. Just before 8:00 p.m., a dispatch received a 911 call from the victim, stating that the dispute had turned physical and that the male suspect, 60-year-old Tracy Alan Lemaster had a gun.
At least three deputies arrived on scene and observed the couple struggling on the ground in front of the residence. WATCH VIDEO
Deputies are heard yelling at Lemaster to drop the gun multiple times before one of the deputies fires several rounds at the couple. Nienhuis says Lemaster pointed the firearm at deputies and stated, "shoot me, shoot me."
Lemaster and the victim were airlifted to a trauma center for treatment. Nienhuis says the victim was released a few days later but Lemaster is not expected to be released for a few more days. He will then be transported to the Hernando County Jail, where he will face several felony charges.
The day after the shooting, HCSO issued a statement that provided a slightly different narrative than that of today. In the original statement, deputies say Lemaster fired shots at them and that's what prompted them to return fire. I asked Nienhuis to explain why the narrative changed and he said, "Often times when you're in these situations, you hear people talking about time moving very fast or time moving very slow, and your perception get changed. And with the movement of the gun, there was actually a deputy who legitimately thought he was fired upon." He goes on to explain, "Maybe the gun was clicking – maybe he was trying to pull the trigger. But the deputy actually – immediately after the shots were fired was saying 'he shot at me' if I remember correctly." Nienhuis further states, "It takes us a very long time to go through and do round counts on the deputies, do round counts on the suspects gun... We come to find out that the amount the gun would hold and the amount it had the scene were the same." Nienhuis explains that the gun was jammed and that would not have been able to fire.
After we published our initial report, residents began asking, "where is the body cam footage," and many were shocked to find out that HCSO does not use them. Nienhuis vehemently opposes the use of body cameras with his deputies but says he does have dashcams in some of the agency patrol cars.
Most agencies in Florida already require their officers or deputies to use body cams but Nienhuis is one of the few chief law enforcement officers who refuses to consider them. But that may all change if County Commissioner Steve Champion can convince Nienhuis and his fellow commissioners to require HCSO to purchase them.
Commissioner Champion will raise the issue next Tuesday February 14th at the Board of County Commissioners meeting in Brooksville.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is still conducting their investigation into the incident.