A Polk County deputy is killed by friendly fire while serving a warrant
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Deputy Blane Lane, 21, was shot while serving a warrant with three other deputies on a suspect who failed to appear on a felony drug charge.
A 21-year deputy appeared to have been fatally shot by friendly fire from deputies with whom he was serving a warrant in central Florida early Tuesday, authorities said.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that Deputy Blane Lane was shot in the left arm and chest at a trailer in Polk City while serving a warrant with three other deputies on a suspect wanted for failing to appear on a felony drug charge.
Shots were fired after deputies discovered the suspect with what appeared to be a handgun pointed at them but actually was a BB gun. Two of the deputies fired their guns, and “the round that struck Lane came from one of their firearms,” the sheriff's office statement said.
The deputy, who Sheriff Grady Judd described as one of the youngest on the force, was taken to a hospital where he died, “despite valiant efforts,” the sheriff said.
During a news conference Tuesday, Judd says he thinks the suspect — Cheryl Williams — was trying to force the deputies to shoot her, based on interviews with witnesses inside the home.
Judd says investigators spoke to two eyewitnesses who were with her in the mobile home and who let the deputies in, on her instructions.
"After the fact, (a) witness ... tells us that when they heard the deputies arriving, she picked this gun up and carried it into what we'll call the gaming room," Judd said. "(The) witness ... said, 'You shouldn't do that,' and she said, 'Let them in.' It is my belief at this early stage of the investigation, she clearly and unequivocally wanted to put us into a gunfight with her and/or a suicide by cop. She carried that gun into the room, and then immediately pointed it at the deputies as soon as she saw them."
Judd said Lane had set himself up in a tactical position so he could watch the front door and window while not being in the field of vision of the people inside.
"In our early analysis, we find that Deputy Lane did exactly what he should have — he was soundly positioned, allowed himself to have not only concealment, but cover in the event there was a shoot-out at the door," Judd said. "(He) was clearly protected so if there was someone who jumped through or tried to shoot at him out of the door, they couldn't see him.
Had he literally been standing three inches in or three inches back, the round would have missed him. But he wasn't."
Williams also was hit multiple times. She was taken to a hospital where she was in stable condition. She faces a felony second degree murder charge, among other charges, the sheriff's office said.
Williams previously served time in prison for methamphetamine trafficking, and had failed to appear in court on drug possession charges, according to Judd.
The sheriff's office planned to hold a line-of-duty death funeral with full law enforcement honors for Lane.
Lane leaves behind a 3-year-old child.
WUSF staff writer Mark Schreiner contributed to this report.