Deputy cleared in Gulf County shooting incident


PORT. ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) — The State Attorney’s Office has finalized an investigation into a deputy-involved shooting from March 24 and concluded Sgt. Richard Burkett was justified in his actions using deadly force against Joseph David Durman.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted the investigation with interviews from officers and eye-witnesses who were on the scene of the incident.

The report shows Durman had eluded multiple law enforcement vehicles before Burkett performed a pit maneuver on Durman’s vehicle, causing the suspect to crash into a car in a residential area.

When Durman exited his vehicle, officers on scene reported he was pointing a handgun at them. Durman reportedly did not follow commands from officers, then Burkett fired his weapon at Durman.

Once law enforcement approached Durman’s body, the handgun turned out to be a black battery pack.

“Every day, our deputies go out there, they have to make life and death decisions at a split second,” said Sheriff Mike Harrison of the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office. “In a case like this, this was an incident where an officer had to take a life. Unfortunately, the shooting occurred in a residential area.”

Burkett was put on administrative leave following the shooting, and received psychological counseling. He also was required to undergo a “Fitness for Duty” exam to make sure he was capable to return to work.

He began work again with the sheriff’s office approximately two weeks following the shooting.

Harrison said this is the first officer-involved shooting for his agency in 19 years.

“This is not something that we deal with on a regular basis,” Harrison said. “It’s something that we’re glad to get behind us. I had confidence in this process, I’m glad to get it behind us and move forward.”

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