Cherie M. Saunders, a 38-year-old resident of Brookside Lane in Palm Coast, is in jail, facing two felony charges for violently resisting law enforcement and biting a sheriff’s deputy so hard and so long that he subsequently fainted.
Deputies had responded to the house regarding a suspected domestic assault. Saunders, who had been drinking, was accused of slapping the 21-year-old son of her boyfriend, with an 11-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl in the house.
By the time deputies arrived at the house, the 21-year-old man and his father had left the scene to get away from Saunders: the 21 year old said he no longer wanted to cooperate with the investigation. But the 6-year-old girl–Saunders’s daughter–was still there.
“After finding out there was in fact a child supposedly on scene, I attempted to conduct a welfare check on the child’s well-being,” one of the responding deputies wrote in his arrest report of Saunders. He knocked and for 15 minutes got no response, but Saunders then opened the garage door. She was sitting deep in the garage on a weight bench. At first she was welcoming, according to the report, allowing deputies to step inside. But when they asked about her daughter, she allegedly became argumentative and changed demeanor entirely.
An unsettling video issued by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office captures five minutes of the encounter from that moment on, as Saunders is sitting in her garage, telling deputies in a ceaseless string of expletives to get off her property. At that moment the deputies are just outside the garage door. She then gets up and tries to close the garage door, whose mechanism appeared to have been impeded by a deputy tripping a sensor at the door frame. The deputies meanwhile, using normal tones, urge Saunders to “come talk to us.” (See the video below.)As she notices that the door won’t come down, she walks toward the deputies and tells one of them to move his foot, though without stopping, she then aggressively gets in his face. “You want to fucking play this shit?” Another deputy grabs her arm, and the scuffle between her and two deputies unfolds as she yells between expletives that she didn’t touch the deputy. The deputies struggle to get control of her flailing limbs as they tell her to calm down, “chill out” and stop resisting. She continues to flail and scream (“I didn’t do anything… you came on my goddamn property”). A deputy asks another if she’d bitten him, but they continue to secure her in handcuffs.
Once her wrists had been secured a couple of the deputies stand back as she is on the ground, but she flails and appears to be kicking one with her legs, prompting the deputies to again seek to bring her under control. As they are attempting to lift her off the ground, she clenches her mouth on the deputy’s calf and literally growls as she bites him, refusing to let go. The deputy is audibly in pain as another deputy tries to un-clench her from him. After Saunders is removed from the garage, the deputy is heard saying he’s feeling faint, and did, according to the sheriff’s office, lose consciousness briefly. He was taken to AdventHealth Palm Coast and released. Sheriff Rick Staly said he was not seriously injured, but the bite “resulted in a two-inch mark which immediately showed broken skin, swelling, and bruising,” according to a sheriff’s release.
Saunders faces a misdemeanor domestic violence battery charge regarding the alleged slapping of the 21 year old. She faces felony charges of battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting with violence. She vomited in the patrol vehicle on the way to the county jail, so was then taken to the hospital as well for clearance before being booked at the jail on $5,000 bond. She’d been arrested on a resisting charge (without violence) in 2018, in an incident that mirrored some of Saunders’s demeanor on Friday, but with less violence (the incident took place near a bar in Flagler Beach, and she was intoxicated, according to that report.) That charge was dropped. She was accused of domestic battery the same year, against her husband at the time, but that charge was also dropped.
“Rather than let us handle the investigation in a civil manner, this woman actively fought our deputies and bit one deputy resulting in a trip to the hospital,” Staly said. He said the only thing suspects will win if they battle deputies is a trip to the jail, facing serious charges. “This is a prime example of how dangerous domestic violence calls are for our deputies to handle. Thankfully the deputy was not seriously injured by her actions.” The sheriff’s release included FBI data on assaults on law enforcement in 2018, when there were 58,866 such reports, 31 percent of them while officers were responding to disturbance calls–a fate of 10.8 per 100 officers–with a third of those assaulted sustaining injuries. See the tally sheet here.