BREVARD COUNTY, FL – Dashcam footage has been released of two Florida Sheriff’s deputies involved in a life-or-death shootout with a wanted, violent career criminal who had ambushed them during a routine traffic stop last week, leaving the suspect dead and one officer with non-life threatening injuries.
On August 30th, Brevard County Sheriff’s deputies Brian Potters and Tyler Thoman had conducted a routine traffic stop in Melbourne when they were suddenly attacked by one of the vehicle’s passengers – identified as Paris Wilder of Cocoa, 38 – who jumped out wielding an AK-47 style rifle and immediately opened fire.
The resulting intense firefight – which was captured on the dash cam of the deputies’ cruiser – resulted in both Deputy Potters and Wilder sustaining gunshot wounds but continuing to engage each other; when Wilder’s weapon jammed, he proceeded to run up behind Deputy Potters, striking him in the back of his head with the butt of his rifle.
It was at this point that Deputy Thoman emptied his entire pistol magazine into Wilder while he was on the ground struggling with Potters, killing him. In total, 61 shots were exchanged during the firefight, which lasted roughly one minute.
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Deputy Potters, who sustained a gunshot wound to the leg and multiple head lacerations and bone fractures, is expected to make a full recovery.
During a press conference addressing the incident, Sheriff Wayne Ivey noted that Wilder was a dangerous felon who had demonstrated a repeated disregard for law and order.
“The attack and ambush, perpetrated by a violent, career criminal, with a history of 40 charges for crimes including drug trafficking, aggravated assault while discharging a firearm, battery on a law enforcement officer, and attempted first-degree felony murder,” he said.
Sheriff Ivey also seemed to anticipate that some people would consider the number of times the suspect had been shot to be excessive, and preemptively defended the actions of his deputies as being a totally justifiable response to the situation.
“Let there be no doubt, this individual got exactly what he deserved,” Ivey said. “And to those out there that might be foolish enough to ask why we shot him so many times, the answer is simple: Evil can never be dead enough.”
Officials noted that the two other occupants of the vehicle that Wilder was in – which included a 2 month-old baby – were not involved in the ambush.
After talking about the incident with the media present, Ivey expressed disdain for a justice system that would allow a man with an extensive criminal history such as Wilder repeatedly back on the street to threaten more lives.
“This case is a perfect example of what is wrong with our criminal justice system, he said. “When a registered career criminal with 23 felony charges, 17 misdemeanor charges, multiple convictions for violent offenses and two active and pending drug trafficking cases is out on our streets where he can attempt to kill our deputies and put other lives at risk, something is wrong with our system.”