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Fearing Ambush, Cops and Medics “Stage” Before Responding to Reported Shooting in Bunnell

| August 15, 2014

The general area of Hymon Circle in Bunnell where police and paramedics responded to conflicting reports of a shooting shortly after midnight Thursday.

The general area of Hymon Circle in Bunnell where police and paramedics responded to conflicting reports of a shooting shortly after midnight Thursday.

The incident took place just after midnight Thursday in South Bunnell: 911 got several calls about an alleged shooting and a victim who’d been injured.  The 911 calls that night  led Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies and Bunnell police to fear that they could be led to an ambush.

There are conflicting reports on whether the man was shot or not. A sheriff’s report states he was shot, and paramedics responding to the scene took the victim to Halifax Hospital’s trauma unit, as a shooting victim. Tom Foster, the Bunnell police chief, said Friday the man was not shot, but struck in the head  in an assault, possibly with a gun. But that determination was made later.

“Multiple calls came into dispatch advising different locations of the shooting and whether or not the victim had been removed from the scene,” a sheriff’s report on the incident states. “Due to multiple threats to kill or shoot law enforcement officers made on social media sites (originating by subjects living in the vicinity of this call), and the conflicting accounts provided to dispatch (large distances between the reported sights, and the location of the victim), the decision was made to stage and go into the area with several units to counteract the chances of being ambushed.”

Once units were in place, several Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies were able to accompany two Bunnell police officers to the scene–603 Hyman Circle.

Marvin Innocent, a 27-year-old black man,  of Buffalo Meadow Lane in Palm Coast, was in and out of consciousness, injured. Even as deputies were investigating the case and paramedics took care of innocent, they still believed Innocent had been shot. It took 17 minutes between the time  Flagler County Fire Rescue units–Engine 92 and Rescue 92–staged and were cleared to come to Innocent’s assistance, Flagler County Fire Chief Don Petito said.

“Through interviews on-scene it was determined that the shooting did not take place at 603 Hyman Cir.,” the report states. The Sheriff’s Office assisted Bunnell police “in locating the original crime scene and securing it.” Bunnell Police Chief Tom Foster requested that the sheriff’s crime scene investigator process the scene, and CSI Laura Pazarena responded. The sheriff’s office also  assisted in videotaping a few interviews.

Marvin Innocent

Marvin Innocent

Half a day earlier, U.S. Marshals had fatally shot a South Bunnell man wanted for attempted murder. The man had retreated to Espanola. The man was black, and it’s still not clear, because the marshals won’t say, whether he was armed when he was killed. The incident, justly or not, was taking place in the context of the racially-tinged violence in  Ferguson, Mo., where a unarmed black teen was shot and killed by police while the boy was thought merely to have been walking home. (Surveillance video subsequently showed the 17 year old carrying out a robbery at a convenience store, but the officer who killed him was not aware that the 17-year-old was a suspect.) All those events may have contributed to the temper of the night.

“We’ve got a community and everything that’s happening throughout the country now as well as here in Espanola,” Foster said in an interview Friday, “but this particular case, we’re investigating it, all these rumors. I talked to the victim yesterday and his girlfriend. Now he’s cooperating. Initially he was not cooperating.”

Foster insisted: “He was not shot. He was hit in the head, possibly from the butt of a gun, but he was not shot. He got a couple of stitches in his head, that was all.” He added: “There may have been a gun involved, we’re investigating, there could have been a  struggle over a  gun, we’re still seeking witnesses.” But Foster believed that the inflammatory claims on social media and the conflicting calls to 911 may have been “because of what happened with the marshals” earlier that day, which suggests that tempers are possibly chafing locally over recent incidents, locally and elsewhere.

But context aside, Foster said the incident in South Bunnell that night was a local event. “This is in-house fighting that has nothing to do with that stuff,” he said. “It’s not gang-related or anything else. It’s possibly narcotics involved. But we’re still investigating that case.”

Petito said staging is a routine part of the job, and standard practice for public safety agencies, when such situations arise. “We have policies in place any time there’s an active scene or situation like that,” Petito said. “We stage several blocks away and allow the law enforcement officers to neutralize the situation before we come in, so we keep our guys out of harm’s way until the police officers do what they’re trained to do. Then we come in and do what we’re trained to do.”

Innocent was arrested four times in Flagler County since 2009, on charges including aggravated battery, criminal mischief, and marijuana possession.

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19 Responses for “Fearing Ambush, Cops and Medics “Stage” Before Responding to Reported Shooting in Bunnell”

  1. NortonSmitty says:

    Long term, this will have ramifications. Because we all know nothing commands more respect than showing fear.

  2. derrick redder says:

    What type of society do you want to live in and raise a family?
    Would you prefer that the police not enforce laws?
    Would you prefer that the police not arrest black people who have committed a crime?
    Would you prefer a police force that sits on the sidelines and takes reports for statistical purposes?
    Because that is the message that Police Officers are getting from the media and the public from coast to coast. The public is very loud in denouncing, second guessing, and playing Monday-morning quarterbacking any police incident involving force when the perp is a black male.
    If the public wants to live in a lawless society, so be it.
    If not, where is the support from the public for the countless actions taken by cops every day, from routine to heroic?
    America needs to speak up for the brave and honorable men and women in Blue!

    • Ray Thorne says:

      The best thing I read today Derrick.

    • Nancy N. says:

      Second-guessing? It’s our duty as American citizens to question our government to keep them honest – and that includes law enforcement. That’s why we have the first amendment, to give us the all-important right to do that. Without that ability to question our government, we just live in a totalitarian police state.

      You want to live somewhere where people don’t question the police? I have a long list of countries you can move to. Enjoy your time in North Korea, China, Iran….and don’t come crying to us when you get arrested, because the alternative to enforcing laws is a lawless society.

      Would I prefer that police not arrest black people who have committed crimes? No. The problem is blacks being targeted for enforcement (ever heard of “stop and frisk” or “DWB”?). The problem is black men being shot for jaywalking when they have their hands up cooperating with police. The problem is black men being beat to death in law enforcement custody routinely.

      What type of society do I want to live in? The kind where I don’t have to be afraid of the police if I’m not committing a crime. And frankly, we don’t live in that society today.

      • wolley segap says:

        Question Nancy, Do black cops target blacks? Or is it called something else when a black cop arrests a black offender? Also, is it called something when a black cop arrests a white offender? Is the black cop targeting the white offender? I’d like to read your take on it.

      • anonymous says:

        It is few and far between that truly innocent people are hurt by the police, or even have encounters with the police. In today’s media driven world, every time it does happen, it’s sensationalized. Furthermore, I have many friends and family members who are police officers and they are just as weary of the government as you or I. They are in a situation where they are viewed by the citizenry as the government, but they are viewed by the government as part of the citizenry.

      • Johnny Taxpayer says:

        Nancy- While I agree with you’re overall thesis, your statement “The problem is black men being beat to death in law enforcement custody routinely.” doesn’t tell the whole story and is frankly inaccurate. When it comes to deaths by law enforcement, Barney Fife and the boys tend to kill indiscriminately in our country as black deaths at the hands of police are on par with the number of white deaths at the hands of law enforcement. The anything goes in the interest of Officer Safety pendulum has swung way to far.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Derrick, of course we all want to live in a society that enforces the law. But I believe we should also demand that the law applies to both citizens and the Police equally. That is not the case in America today. And I also also admire the brave and honorable men in Blue. But more and more of them retire every year. Ask them what they think of their replacements. Seriously, any old timer will be glad to tell you.

      I would like for all of you to consider this one fact. In Afghanistan today, like every past war zone from Iraq to Kuwait to Viet Nam, our troops go afield knowing there are certain rules they must follow on their patrols as well as everywhere they go when In-Country. These are the Orders known as Rules of Engagement. These rules dictate just what you are allowed to do when interacting with the local civilians as well as the enemy DuJour. These rules have dictated for many years now that when on patrol in every area, and vary regarding the threat, mission and other variables. But pretty much without exception every area that the Enemy may be operating within a civilian population, these ironclad rules dictate that you absolutely do not fire on an un-uniformed civilian unless he has either fired on you first or at the very least made a threatening move towards you with a visible weapon.

      These rules have their critics, but all agree that the risk to our troops is outweighed by the need to avoid pissing off the local Hearts and Minds we are trying to convince that we are the Good Guys. Because even the US Military knows that if you give anyone a gun and put him somewhere he feels threatened, he will shoot anything that moves, especially if he does not feel the enemy is fully human.. Like this:

      And this applies to the people we arm everywhere in the whole world, except when it comes to the employees of the Local, County and State Police forces here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, the good ‘ol U.S.A.! Today, any Law Enforcement Officer (and why don’t we have Law Enforcement Enlisted?) is ruled perfectly justified in killing anybody if they just say they feel threatened. Cops can shoot your Grandpa ( throw a grenade into your toddlers crib ( or kill your dog for no reason whatsoever (hell, pick one: and almost always face absolutely no criminal repercussions! You don’t have to be armed, you don’t have to hit him, you don’t have to be big and scary. He can kill you without much risk. So they really don’t care about our citizens and Public Opinion. Well, at least until yesterday in Ferguson, Missouri.

      If a Deputy hits on the good looking dispatcher, gets a DUI, fakes a timesheet or any minor infraction, he’s outta’ here and there are dozens ready to take his place.. But if he’s a known idiot and shoots someone, they circle the wagons. We all know this. Hell, even Cops won’t dispute it in private.

      “What type of society do you want to live in and raise a family?” Not one where I have to worry about cops more than criminals. And we’re at the tipping point.

  3. Oy Vey! says:

    Confusing series of events. One thing we know for sure, the Marvin is Innocent. Sorry, but somebody had to say it.

  4. MOA .001 says:

    Getting really dangerous to be outside now days when even the police are afraid their going to be shot at .
    We need more gun stores here in Palm Coast and a local gun range that doesn’t cost a second mortgage on your house.

    • Palm Coast Native says:

      I don’t think this was an issue of the police being scared of being shot. I think this was an issue of a possible fake call and being ambushed when they arrived on scene. If I was in their shoes I would rather show up with 8+ cars than just the two Bunnell cars.

  5. BIG JOHN says:

    We are living in a police state.

    • anonymous says:

      I will refer you to Nancy’s post above. If you think you live in a police state, try living in a real police state. People complain about the police but then complain about the justice system that routinely lets guilty people walk free on a technicality. How can you say we live in a police state when time and again our system proves that the criminals have more rights than the police, or even the victims for that matter! Our system isn’t perfect, but there are worse places in the world that you could live.

      • NortonSmitty says:

        ” How can you say we live in a police state when time and again our system proves that the criminals have more rights than the police, or even the victims for that matter!”

        Spoken like most people who have never seen the other side of the Criminal/Justice Industry. And I hope you never do. But trust me on this, it really ain’t like Law and Order.

      • Johnny Taxpayer says:

        I certainly do not complain when someone who appears guilty walks on a “technicality” because it doesn’t actually happen very much at all (look at conviction rates!), and on the very rare occasion when it does happen that “technicality” is almost always the result of the Police or the State violating someone’s constitutional rights. That is a small price to pay, in the grand scheme of things, to ensure all of our constitutional rights are maintained.

  6. Walter Martins says:

    Ohhhh myyyyyyyyy goodnessssss people!!!! Stop with the racism!!!!

    Corey Tanner was probably the worst, lose cannon criminal in Flagler County, and just last week everyone in south Bunnell was begging the police to take him off of the streets. His girlfriend, whom he beat up routinely, has said a zillion times that she is horrified of him. He knew he was going to die because he wanted to die, and he put the marshals in the position where they had to kill him. This is not 1860 or 1960, NO cops want to go around shooting African Americans just because. I assure you that if a white male did the exact same thing Corey did, he would be just as dead (only no one would care).

    Cops are terrified of having to do anything to African Americans because they don’t want to made an example of by their departments. Now the same people who were threatening to shoot cops after Corey was killed, want to act like the police are being racists for not rushing in blindly like a bunch of sitting duck morons.

    Where was the public outcry a few weeks ago when Corey Tanner TRIED to murder a fellow african american, but instead SHOT an innocent bystander (also African American)???? WHERE????

    Are cops a-holes? Yeah, a lot of them are. Is it inherent, or is it developed after years of being hated by the general public? I don’t know. What I do know is that they aren’t trying to just murder people for no reason. They never catch a break from the public. They are just trying their best for 30K a year or whatever they make nowadays. The saddest thing about Corey is that he was mentally ill and I’m sure this contributed to some of the things he did…but at some point you have to be an adult and be held accountable for your actions.

    By the way. Derrick Redder that post was great.

  7. FF Richard A Kocik MCFR18 says:

    Just for those who don’t know, Fire and Rescue units being staged is a common thing where there is an injury as a result of a crime or suspicion of one. Although not often, crews may be staged longer then in the case here. Help can’t be given if we get attacked as well.

  8. Fleek Weebnut says:

    “When the people fear the gov’t, there is tyranny. When they gov’t fears the people, there is liberty” – Thomas Jefferson

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