Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014

Shooting of teen not in report

Published:   |   Updated: March 7, 2013 at 04:31 PM

Nature Coast High School senior Joseph Berrios, 18, had the first court appearance of his life Friday after being charged with battering Deputy Ramona Fuhs on Candler Avenue on Wednesday, attorney Peyton Hyslop said.

But Berrios couldn't appear after being shot twice by Fuhs in the legs that night, with one bullet passing through his lower body and exiting his buttocks and another shattering his femur bone, prompting surgery.

And according to an arrest affidavit issued by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, those details were excluded when describing Berrios' arrest and the decision to hold him on $10,000 bond, and forbid his family to see him. The use of deadly force remains under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Internal Affairs at the sheriff's office.

"The judge lowered (Berrios') bond to $2,500," Hyslop said. "(Judge Donald Scaglione) inquired if Mr. Berrios had any criminal record, even juvenile, and the answer was absolute none."

Berrios' parents have since posted bond and he is no longer under guard.

Berrios will be arraigned March 19 before Judge Anthony Tatti, at which time Hyslop said he will file a plea of not guilty.

According to the affidavit, Fuhs was dispatched to Candler Avenue in reference to an irrational person, whose description was provided via dispatch, and Fuhs saw Berrios walking on the road. According to Hyslop, a friend of Berrios' called Berrios' mother, saying Berrios was acting strangely, and asked if she could pick him up.

When Berrios' mother went to pick her son up, she noticed his condition, saying he was pointing at the sky and saying he could see heaven. She tried to get him to leave with her, but had to call 911 for help.

"She called 911 and explained, gave them her son's name, what he was wearing," Hyslop said. "She mentioned his medical issues, and the pills he'd been prescribed. They were calling for help because he seemed not to be acting right."

Residents in the area said they also called 911.

As Fuhs attempted to exit her vehicle on Candler Avenue, Berrios approached the driver's side "of the marked patrol vehicle," then reportedly "used the front driver's side door to strike (Fuhs) as she attempted to exit the vehicle." The affidavit also states while Fuhs remained partially in the vehicle, Berrios "used his strength to push and pull the door, striking" Fuhs.

"When I try to get out of a car, the first thing I try is to get out using my legs, but she's complaining of only neck and shoulder injuries, which is odd," Hyslop said. "If her injuries are on her neck and shoulders only — is she trying to climb out the window?"

According to the affidavit, Fuhs then "was able to remove herself from the vehicle and attempted to retreat from Joseph Berrios."

"If you're driving a perfectly good car, and a person tried to push and pull on your door, aren't you going to drive away?" Hyslop asked. "There's no logic in this."

As Fuhs was attempting to get away from Berrios, he continued beating and striking her about the head and neck," and was later transported to a hospital for medical treatment, because Fuhs complained of "neck and shoulder" injuries.

According to the sheriff's office, Fuhs was released from the hospital.

The detective who wrote the affidavit did not mention if or when Fuhs discharged a firearm throughout the course of the scene described above, and did not specify whether the above account was deduced by audio or video recordings, witness interviews, statements provided by Fuhs or Berrios, or any other evidence.

"I know not all the departments have cameras, and she's not a traffic unit or DUI unit, so she may not have a camera," Hyslop said. "We may have audio."


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