Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit State Attorneyâ€™s Office deemed the January 18 shooting of Shawn Joseph Pearce by Chipley police officers to be justified after a two-month investigation.
According to investigation reports, calls began coming into the Washington County Dispatch in reference to Pearce acting erratically, yelling, harassing motorists and threatening a Washington County school bus and causing a physical disturbance at Walmart. Cell phone footage showed Pearce standing on top of his vehicle at a stop light with additional footage showing the early stages of the disturbance at Walmart.
Multiple Chipley Police Department officers responded to Walmart after reports of Pearce attacking customers in the parking lot. CPD Officer James Webb was the first to arrive on scene followed by Corporal Chelsey Castro and Officer Christopher Boggan. Webb was then pointed in the direction of Pearce with whom he made contact and asked for identification. As a crowd began to form, Castro and Boggan assisted with crowd control and calling in Pearceâ€™s license plate. The crowd began to argue with Pearce while reporting his behavior to law enforcement.
While Webb was approaching a customer, Pearce began to follow Webb. Boggan stopped Pearce from following, and Pearce verbally threatened Boggan not to touch him again. As Pearce became physical with Boggan, he pointed his finger and waved his hand as he stepped closer to Boggan. Pearce used his right hand to reach down and remove Bogganâ€™s taser from his gun belt.
Upon gaining access to the taser, Pearce spun it around his finger and pointed it at Castro and Boggan stating, â€œlet me tell you something, (explicative).â€ The report further states the taser flashlight was clearly visible in multiple videos of the incident and was ready to deploy while in Pearceâ€™s hand.
Castro gave the command to â€œput it downâ€ to which Pearce did not comply. Both Castro and Boggan began to fire on Pearce who was struck and fell to the ground. Emergency medical services responded to the scene and rendered aid to Pearce. He was transported to a local hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries. Pearce sustained bullet wounds to the left elbow (graze), abdomen, right hip, right arm, axilla, buttocks, right buttock, right leg, right knee and left leg.
Toxicology reports indicate Pearce was positive for Delta-9 THC in a quantitative result of 11.0 and THC-COOH with a quantitative result of 86.5. All other analyte results were negative.
In all, 22 civilian witnesses were interviewed during the investigation by FDLE. Police reports, surveillance cameras, cell phone footage, body cam footage, 911 calls, medical reports and scene diagrams were all reviewed by the state attorney’s office to determine under Florida Law if the shooting was justified. It was determined that under Florida Statute 776.05(1), Corporal Castro and Officer Boggan were justified in using deadly force which they reasonably believed was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to themselves and others.
Chipley Police Chief Scott Thompson stated Castro and Boggan returned to full duty on March 28 after being cleared in the investigation.
â€œThe Chipley Police Department is excited to have these officers return to full duty and to continue to serve the citizens of Chipley,â€ Thompson said.