DELTONA — A Deltona man was unarmed when he was shot and killed by a Volusia County deputy who was entering the home Wednesday morning on a narcotics search warrant, an official said.
Weapons were not found in the home where Derek Cruice, 26, was killed, but Deputy Todd Raible fired his duty weapon after perceiving Cruice’s actions during the search as a threat, Volusia County sheriff’s spokesman Gary Davidson said. He said he could not elaborate on those actions because the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office has not interviewed Raible to get his account of what occurred. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is in charge of the investigation because a law enforcement officer was involved.
Raible, 36, who is a member of the Sheriff’s Office’s SWAT Team, has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure for deputy-involved shootings. Though Raible is on the SWAT Team, he was at the Deltona home Wednesday as a narcotics investigator, Davidson said. Raible has been with the Sheriff’s Office since March 2005. Cruice was shot in the face about 6:30 a.m. by Raible as a sheriff’s drug task force came through the front door of the home at 831 Maybrook Drive, Sheriff Ben Johnson said. “They (deputies) were met with resistance and a shooting occurred,” Johnson said. “... The deputy, he’s all right, actually he is very shaken.” Cruice was pronounced dead at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial in Orange City.
Investigators found about 9 ounces of marijuana in the Maybrook Drive home, Davidson said. Investigators also found a scale, a drug ledger, marijuana smoking pipes, plastic bags and about $3,000 in cash. The sheriff said Cruice was listed in the search warrant as the subject of an ongoing narcotics investigation.
Cruice was one of six adults — four men and two women — in the house when deputies arrived to serve the narcotics search warrant, Davidson said. Matt Grady, 24, who opened the door for deputies, was detained after the shooting by investigators for questioning. Later, he told reporters that he was awakened by banging on the door and everything was confusion. “A bunch of guys came around the corner and they are pushing me down,” Grady said. “And as I was going down on my knee I heard gunfire.”
Steven Cochran, 24, also was in the house when deputies entered. He was questioned by agents from FDLE and told reporters there was no resistance on Cruice’s part. “He had no weapons on him or in the house,” Cochran said. “Nobody was making any kind of resistance or keeping them from doing their job.” Cochran said after serving in the military he met Cruice at a Recreational Medieval Combat Sports tournament in Ocala. Cochran was between jobs. “We started talking and he offered me a place to stay,” Cochran said.
Thomas Figueroa, 19, said Cruice was a delivery driver at Monster Pizza in Deltona. Figueroa, who also worked there, stopped at the scene Wednesday afternoon and broke down by the yellow crime scene tape. The pizza business closed in respect of Cruice’s death, Figueroa said. Cruice, who graduated from Pine Ridge High School, loved video games and enjoyed foam sword fighting as a pastime, Figueroa said. “He is not the kind of person that would do that (attack a deputy),” said Figueroa, who’s known Cruice about nine years. “He’s really smart. He knows when it’s time for self-defense and he knows when it’s time to restrain himself.”
Neighbors were familiar with the group in the house. “I’ve always seen them playing some kind of gladiator games outside with sponge swords,” said Rosemary Mattola. The most recent fatal shooting involving a Volusia deputy prior to Wednesday’s remains under investigation by the FDLE. Edward P. Miller, 52, of Port Orange, was killed in September in front of Fryer’s Towing Service in Daytona Beach, authorities said. Two deputies who were at the business on an unrelated matter heard a heated argument taking place outside, and when they went to investigate, deputy Joel Hernandez noticed Miller was armed.
Miller was shot while sitting in his SUV, and family members questioned if his being deaf may have been a factor.
Cruice’s criminal history shows that in January 2009, he was stopped by a Volusia deputy in Deltona for a non-working tag light. The deputy noticed an odor of marijuana and Cruice said he and his passenger had recently smoked at a friend’s house, according to the report. After a search of the car yielded just over a pound of marijuana, Cruice told the deputy he was buying marijuana and then reselling it, according to the report. Cruice was charged with possession of marijuana over 20 grams with intent to distribute, possession/use of drug paraphernalia and improper equipment.
Court records show Cruice was not prosecuted on the possession charge, and he was given pre-trial intervention for the drug paraphernalia charge. The improper equipment charge was dismissed. Cruice’s mother, Sheila Cruice of Orange City, came by the home but declined to speak to reporters.
By Patricio Balona - Daytona Beach News Journal/March 6, 2015
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