DELAND, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - After two days of testimony and deliberation, a grand jury has declined to indict a Volusia County deputy who fatally shot a 26-year-old man during a drug raid. Todd Raible was charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence after shooting Derek Cruice. Raible said he perceived Cruice to be a threat as narcotics investigators were attempting to serve a warrant at a Deltona home in March.
Audible cries and gasps could be heard in the courtroom as State Attorney R.J. Larizza announced the grand jury's decision. Investigators said Cruice was shot in the face and died at the hospital. He had been under surveillance for about six months when investigators from the Volusia County Sheriff's Office went to the home to serve the warrant.
"This was a tragic, tragic incident. It was an incident that nobody wanted to happen. It's an incident that, if we could turn back the clock, we would," said Larizza. "My heart goes out to the family and friends, because they suffered a loss. They lost somebody they can never get back, but the grand jury has decided that there would be no criminal charges and that ends our criminal inquiry into this matter."
Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson released a statement following the jury's decision, addressing what he called false narratives that had been circulating in the months since the shooting. Johnson said a SWAT team was never deployed at the Deltona residence on Maybrook Drive on the evening of March 4. He also refuted claims that investigators did not knock on the door of the home and announce themselves, or that the occupants were not aware that law enforcement officers were present.
"That Derek Cruice was unarmed makes the outcome of this incident truly tragic. But it in no way alters the facts and circumstances that caused Investigator Raible and the other deputies in that fateful moment to perceive that their lives were in danger," said Johnson.
"I just hope to make it right, because it hurts. It shouldn't have happened the way it did," Cruice's mother told FOX 35 outside the courthouse. "It shouldn't have happened, but I just want it to be made right."
Orlando attorney Mark NeJame is now representing Cruice's family and said they will be taking legal action.