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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: Volusia County, Florida 11/26/2011

Called to a home for a family argument, two deputies found themselves under fire.

March 13, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

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The 27-year-old Reynolds, meanwhile, remains in jail, held without bond while awaiting trial on two counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and one count of battery against his ex-girlfriend.

Back on Duty

Looking back at the shooting, every single detail from the incident remains crystal clear in the deputies' minds.

"Everything was very clear," Braman says. "I remember everything in a 10-foot circle around me. I remember who was there. I remember what was said. I remember Brady's radio transmission."

For his part, Brady was astonished at how clearly and rapidly his thought processes worked. "It happened so quickly," he says. "I can't believe I had that many thoughts at one time."

The one question the deputies get asked most about the incident is why didn't they return fire instead of wrestling the shooter to the ground.

Braman answers that it was a matter of split-second prioritization-he instinctively knew that he needed to stay on top of the suspect to have any chance of survival. Had he created space between himself and the suspect and disengaged to draw his weapon with his right hand, he figures the shooter would have easily overpowered his weakened left arm and been able to come up shooting again. "I told myself, 'If he comes off there, you're gonna die. You cannot let him get that gun off the ground,'" Braman explains.

Brady's answer is equally well-reasoned. While he had a clear shot at the suspect, at no time was Dep. Braman also not in the line of fire.

"I had my gun out and was prepared to shoot," says Brady. "But we're trained to know what our target is and what lies behind it. My main concern was for Dep. Braman."

In hindsight, had they shot the suspect, no one would have questioned their justification. But Braman is more than content that they didn't have to. "It almost makes you feel a little better about yourself," he says. "We still got the bad guy, we still put him in jail, and we both got to go home."

Both deputies credit scenario training for helping them think through all the angles so quickly under stress. Brady even says that one of the things that helped him work out his response was regularly reading "Shots Fired." He credits the lessons learned from the stories of other officer-involved shootings with helping him survive the attack.

One thing both deputies are sure of is that their boss supports their actions. "I'm very proud of both of them for the way they handled this call. They handled it like heroes, like true professionals," says Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson. "They took care of the threat. And that's what they're out there to do."

Chuck Habermehl, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office's director of training, agrees that the deputies' actions were tactically sound and in all likelihood saved their lives.

"We teach two principles of survival: Depending on the circumstances, you either create distance or close the distance," says Habermehl. "In other words, stay out of the neutral zone. In this case, both deputies did exactly what they should have done. Had Dep. Braman stayed in the neutral zone and tried to draw his weapon, he probably would have been killed."

With the shooting taking place right around the holidays, both deputies said they had a little something extra to be thankful for because of the way the incident ended.

Brady was scheduled to transfer into a new assignment in court security the following week. Because of his injury, the transfer was delayed. But just 16 days after the shooting, on December 12, Brady returned to full duty and assumed his new position in court services.

"I'm just thankful to be here," says the 43-year-old Brady, who has been with the sheriff's office since July 2010. "I'm thankful for the training I got here, and I'm thankful, clearly, for Dep. Braman and the rest of the deputies on my shift."

Braman returned to full duty and road patrol on January 25. He plans to stay in patrol, but he says the experience of being shot can't help but change his approach to working the road.

"I'll be a lot more cautious," says the 28-year-old deputy, who was hired in January 2007. "I'm sure I'm going to be a little paranoid at first about where people's hands are, which I'm sure is to be expected. I know I did the right thing, but I'm probably going to try to look for ways to fine-tune my approaches and how I do things just to make sure that I keep coming home safe."

Gary Davidson is the public information officer for the Volusia County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office.

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