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Sgt. Van Buren, Cited for Bravery in Suicide-by-Cop Attempt, Among 3 Honored

| October 30, 2015

van buren sheriff awards

From left: Detention Deputy Justin Bailey, Executive Assistant Sheri Gopie, Sgt. Michael Van Buren, and
Sheriff Jim Manfre.

Flagler County Sheriff James L. Manfre honored three employees – two sworn deputies and one administrative employee– for excelling and going above and beyond in their jobs, the office announced in a release this week.


Sgt. Michael Van Buren was named Deputy of the Quarter, deputy Justin Bailey was honored as Detention Deputy of the Quarter, and Sheri Gopie, executive assistant to Chief Deputy Jeff Hoffman, was named Civilian Employee of the Quarter on Monday during a special ceremony at the Sheriff’s Operations Center in Bunnell.

Van Buren was honored for his heroic actions on Sept. 14, when he was called to a Palm Coast home where a woman was displaying a gun and behaving as if she were provoking a suicide-by-cop. Deputies later discovered it was a pellet gun. But for several very tense minutes, she stood on her pool deck, refusing repeated multiple commands to drop what appeared to be a handgun. Van Buren was the highest-ranking officer on the scene. After about seven minutes, when the woman walked outside her screened pool enclosure, Van Buren used a Taser stun gun to shock her. She dropped the gun and was safely taken into custody, with no shots fired. See the incident as recorded by van Buren’s body camera.)

“By all means, I was not alone in that incident,” van Buren, a 28-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, said. “We had three other officers, especially the first two that encountered her, who showed great restraint.” Those were deputies Fiona Ebrill, who was sworn in two years ago, and James Crosby, who’s been on the force about a year. George Hristakopoulos arrived at the scene shortly after the incident began to unfold. Van Buren says he hopes the trio will be honored at some point in the future.

“All the training in the world doesn’t replace courage,’’ Sheriff Manfre said in praising Van Buren for using restraint that day.

“That’s the closest I’ve ever come to taking another person’s life,’’ Van Buren said after Monday’s ceremony. In fact, another deputy on the scene was halfway through pulling the trigger on his gun to shoot the woman, Van Buren said, revealing a detail to the incident not known until now.

Van Buren was moved from the Neighborhood Services Division, where he’d supervised a squad of deputies known as the Power Squad, to an administrative position shortly after the suicide-by-cop attempt, though he’d received the notice of transfer before the encounter. A sheriff’s spokesman said “this is not a demotion, this is not a punishment,” but merely a management decision compelled by the medical leave of another supervisory sergeant, Carl Spath. Van Buren is currently assigned to the Palm Coast Precinct. “We were needing a sergeant to go up there, and we had Mike,” the Sheriff’s Office’s Jim Troiano said. “We hold him in high regard. He does good work for us.”

Van Buren has also previously been the Motorcycle Operations Supervisor.

At the quarterly awards, detention deputy Bailey was also praised Monday, for saving the life of his neighbor, who suffered a medical episode in his bedroom and couldn’t breathe. Bailey kicked in the door and found the man gasping for breath, Manfre said. “Thank you for your service on behalf of the community and the gentleman you saved,’’ he told Bailey.

Gopie was honored for assuming the duties of the sheriff’s assistant in addition to her own responsibilities during a recent medical leave. Manfre praised her for her “can-do” attitude and for always having a smile on her face.

The attempted suicide-by-cop video:

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19 Responses for “Sgt. Van Buren, Cited for Bravery in Suicide-by-Cop Attempt, Among 3 Honored”

  1. PeeWee says:

    Van Buren is a jerk. Gave me a ticket on the last day of Bike Week a few years ago in March. I work at Destination Daytona and had been on 15 hour shifts for 21 days straight at that point. I was clocked going 74 in a 70 zone in the dark with no traffic. He was hiding in the gravel between the woods and the Hess parking lot. When I was pulled over, I handed him my DL, insurance card, registration. I read his name tag and was polite to Van Buren, even saying, “here you go Officer Van Buren.”

    I figured he would give me a warning, but he returned with a ticket. I told him I lived in Seminole Woods for 20 years and have always traveled 5 mph over the posted limit. He said to go to court if I wished to dispute the ticket. I did dispute the ticket, and Van Buren never showed up. I asked the judge to throw out the ticket, he wouldn’t. He re-scheduled a court date. I ended up just paying the ticket b/c I didn’t have time to take another day off from work, and also, the judge would just say 74 in a 70 is speeding per the law.

    The reason I am writing this message so many years later would be for the fact this guy took money out of my families pocket. More money than I would have made on a 15 hour shift during Bike Week. The ticket listed 74 in a 70. The road was empty. For a person to give you a ticket for that is pure greed.

    I hope Van Buren reads this himself and understands that we might have just met for 10 minutes, but I have a hatred towards you. You heard me tell you I was a local, always drove the road 5 mph over, had a clean driving record (accident free all my life), and all you could say was dispute the ticket with a smile.

    Nothing will ever change how I view you, no matter what article is written.

  2. layla says:

    Do we know why somebody called 911? Why she was in state she was in? Good job, folks.

  3. YankeeExPat says:

    Stop your crying PeePee, you were caught speeding,… you broke the law and (you and you alone) created an unsafe situation, that is why your were issued a ticket. It cracks me up when the Local Yokels cry privilege.

  4. Geezer says:

    I just love the back of the traffic citation that THREATENS you with an aditional fine if
    you dispute the ticket and lose. I wonder what they think courthouses are for in Florida.
    What a crooked state… Due process, my eye!

    I’d be pissed too for being fined for such a small variance in speed.
    Maybe Van Buren wasn’t able to run the flag up the pole the night before……
    Maybe he wasn’t a stand-up guy?

    I can see if you were ten over the limit, not four.
    Jeez.

  5. Really? says:

    just FYI the Florida State Legislature deemed 0 to 5 miles over the posted speed limit as a no fine violation, read warning. There is no way you received a ticket for 74 in a 70. if it was really written that way you could of had it dismissed.

  6. Eric says:

    PEEWEEEE!!! I feel dumber now that I just read your post. Just as you acknowledged yourself in the last sentence of your second paragraph (of your long drawn out story), YOU broke the law by going over the speed limit. What’s even more comical is the fact that you hold a grudge against someone who was enforcing the law….which happened years ago mind you. You are not just PeeWee….you are
    Pathetic PeeWee

  7. Coppy McCopperson says:

    Pee wee you are lying. There is no fine for a speeding ticket for 4 miles over the limit.

  8. gm2 says:

    Hey Pee Wee – this man is a hero. You on the other hand were a criminal who broke the law. If you don’t want a ticket, don’t exceed the speed limit.

    Who told you that it is ok to drive 5 mph over the posted speed limit? Do you think being a local carries that privilege? What difference does the fact that it was the last day of Bike Week or that you had been working 15 hour shifts for 21 days in Daytona have to do with the fact that you were exceeding the speed limit? Do you think he should have let you off just because you were polite? Did you present all of these petty arguments to the Judge?

    Why do you think the Judge refused to dismiss the case – BECAUSE YOU BROKE THE LAW. At least you had sense enough to realize that the Judge would have ruled that 4 miles over the speed is still speeding (he must not have heard of the law that you cite that 5 mph over the posted speed limit is ok) so at least you didn’t miss another days work.

    YOU took the money out of your family’s pocket, not Van Buren. Think about that the next time you drive 5 mph over the posted speed limit. Why do you say Van Buren was greedy? He didn’t get the money. Lets face it, you know that you broke the law and you are just mad at Van Buren because he didn’t let you get away with it.

    I’m sure that the fact that you hate him will not make any difference to this dilligent deputy who was enforcing the law as he was paid to.

    Oh and by the way – YOU DON’T HAVE A CLEAN DRIVING RECORD ANYMORE.! L O L !

  9. ME says:

    and you were not going 74 in a 70 or you would not have received a speeding ticket. You cant get a speeding ticket until you hit 6 over unless the area is a construction or school zone. The judge would have thrown that out if he saw it.

  10. Just a thought says:

    The max speed limit between Destination Daytona and Seminole Woods is 65 so you were going at least 9 miles over the limit. Nice try to besmirch a true Flagler County Hero.

  11. on the black hand side says:

    It must be all white people saying a person can’t get a ticket for doing 4 miles per hour over the speed limit. A whole different world some of us live in.

  12. on the black hand side says:

    Just like a citizen has the right to resist an unlawful arrest? Or how about your arrested for resisting arrest when the officer didn’t have cause to arrest you in the first place? The point is “contempt of cop” it’s good enough reason for some cops to get their kicks by either inconveniencing you, humiliating you even driving you to get booked even if the charges don’t stick. In their minds they got the last laugh.

  13. GM2 says:

    All of you “jail house lawyers” take note – Florida has what is known as an ABSOLUTE SPEED LIMIT LAW. There is no trick to how this works; if the sign says “speed limit 40 mph” and you drive 41 mph, then you are violating the law.

    In many cases the officer may be lenient if the speed over is minimal (in some cases they may feel its not worth the hassle) but there is no legal statue requiring him to do so. Once the ticket is written, the judge will support the officer unless you can prove you were not speeding or that the ticket is in error. And – ME, to say that “you can’t get a speeding ticket until you hit 6 over or that the judge would have thrown it out” is dead wrong (just ask PEE WEE).

    True that when using radar, most officers will not pull you over for speed not exceeding the posted limit by 5mph, but any speeding is a violation of the law. Whether it is considered a no fine offense is for the Judge to decide, but it is still a “ticketable” offense.

    I sure wouldn’t want some of you folks defending me if I got a speeding ticket!

  14. FLnative says:

    I’ve personally ridden with SGT. Van Buren on patrol, most L.E.O.’s will write for 9 mph over the limit unless it’s in a residential or school zone. Mike is a stand up guy and awesome cop and I’m sure PEE WEE herman was doing more than 4 over. Maybe you were a jerk to him and that’s why he threw the book at you. Your a local so what, and lots of us work hard hours and long shifts. I would have told you press hard 5 copies.

  15. gm2 says:

    To ON THE BLACK HAND SIDE – that’s a baseless assumption. How can you say that they must be white people? They are just uninformed people who believe that theyknow more about the law than they actually do. Stop trying to turn this into a racial issue.

  16. Retired says:

    I just wanted to add this. It’s true that Florida requires a speed of 5MPH or more before a speeding ticket can be issued. However, in the state of Florida, the posted DOT specified speed limit sign is considered a traffic control device, so with that being said, it is entirely possible that Sgt. VanBuren wrote PeeWee a ticket for failing to obey a traffic control device, which would still be a moving violation. Just a possibility!
    PeeWee, you need to understand that Sgt. VanBuren was part of the traffic unit. That is their main function, Traffic Violation enforcement. If he were to let everyone go with warnings, how can any sheriff justify the existence of the traffic unit.

    Either way, people need to get over things and quit carrying grudges. Life is to short..

  17. on the black hand side says:

    Please don’t get me started because I will alert everyone of Flaglerlives readers and citizens of Flagler County on how to have Florida State audit the Sheriffs Office on unlawful and policy breaking procedures regarding the routine running of license plates so one can be pulled over.

  18. Retired says:

    So let me understand. You’ll get on a social media site and whine and complain about how you or other citizens are improperly treated and that the FCSO and its deputies violate not only the rights of its citizens but they violate the law and their own policies and the best you got is “Don’t get me started….”. I would think a well informed outstanding citizen such as yourself would feel obligated to report these crimes to the State of Florida rather than just threaten to do so. Call for the audit and let the chips fall where they may. I certainly wouldn’t want deputies who knowing violate the rights of others riding around the streets of FC.

  19. on the black hand side says:

    @Retired, nice try.

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