The sheriff of Gulf County is defending his deputy following an officer-involved shooting. A Tennessee man died in that shooting Sunday.
According to the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office, Joseph Durman, 46, of Kingsport, Tennessee led deputies on a high-speed pursuit from Bay County into Port St. Joe after he was allegedly involved in a gas drive off. GCSO said they were also informed Durman had struck a Tyndall Air Force Officer.
After finally getting Durman to stop, he left his vehicle. Some witnesses on the scene said Durman had his hands up and was unarmed when he was confronted by law enforcement. However, Sheriff Mike Harrison said Durman was holding a black battery pack and pointed it at the law enforcement officers. Harrison said all three officers on the scene believed the item was a gun. After Durman allegedly refused to drop the what they thought was a weapon when asked, one of the deputies, a 25-year-veteran who had never fired his weapon in the line of duty, shot and killed Durman.
Sheriff Harrison said Durman had an extensive criminal history that included false imprisonment, aggravated assault, aggravated domestic assault, fleeing and eluding, and resisting law enforcement and was a convicted felon. Durman was an absconder from probation out of the State of Tennessee for aggravated burglary and was wanted out of the State of Alabama for escape from a work-release program. Investigators determined the vehicle driven by Durman was stolen out of Shelby County, Alabama, and contained stolen property.
“My heart goes out to the Durman Family on the loss of their son and my heart goes out to my deputy whose life is forever changed by this event. However, I feel that it was ultimately Durman’s actions that lead to his death,“ said Sheriff Harrison.
The incident remains under investigation by the Florida Department of law enforcement.