Okaloosa deputy cleared in fatal shooting

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TOM McLAUGHLIN @TomMnwfdn

Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputy Grady Carpenter has been cleared of wrongdoing in the fatal Nov. 18, 2016, shooting of Joseph Leland Fletcher.

“The death of Joseph Leland Fletcher was the result of justifiable use of deadly force and no criminal charges should be filed,” said a report submitted by Bill Bishop, chief assistant state attorney for Okaloosa County.

Authorities had been looking for Fletcher for three weeks when, on Nov. 16, his girlfriend Fallon Draper reported he had assaulted her, Bishop’s report said.

Fletcher was wanted in Okaloosa for auto theft, fleeing and eluding and possession of controlled substances. Felony warrants also had been issued for him in Fort Walton Beach and Walton County.

Investigators met with Draper on the day she called. She had a black eye she said she suffered when Fletcher hit her “because he believed she was telling law enforcement where he was,” the report said.

Draper also said Fletcher told her “he won’t go back to prison, he wants to make law enforcement kill him, he wants suicide by cop.”

A man called 911 on Nov. 18 to report that Fletcher was at a home at 618 Gap Creek Drive and had threatened him with a baseball bat. A neighbor confirmed Fletcher’s presence and advised “there was a woman inside (who) had probably been assaulted by Fletcher,” the report said.

FILE VIDEO FROM THE SCENE:

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When deputies knocked down the door with a battering ram, they found Draper, injured again. She sent them upstairs to a closet where she said Fletcher was hiding. She told them he knew they were there.

Fletcher attacked Investigator Rodney Owens as he attempted to enter the closet, the report said. Owens, Carpenter and Deputy Chris Lybrand all participated in “a violent struggle,” with Fletcher.

“During the struggle Fletcher stated several times that the officers better kill him,” the report said.

Fletcher fought through two Tasings and somehow managed to grab Owens’ gun from his holster, the report said.

“Sergeant Carpenter, realizing that Fletcher now has the weapon, fires one round, striking Fletcher in the body,” the report said.

The Sheriff’s Office had confirmed earlier the bullet hit Fletcher in the chest.

Efforts to save Fletcher were unsuccessful, the report said. A toxicology report later determined he had drugs, including methamphetamines, in his system when he died.

“The actions of Joseph Fletcher reasonably placed Sgt. Grady Carpenter in fear of imminent harm to himself and his fellow law enforcement officers,” Bishop concluded in his report. “The actions of Sergeant Grady Carpenter in shooting Joseph Leland Fletcher were justifiable.”

 

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