Florida Police Release Footage of Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting

A police department in Florida released body-camera footage of an officer-involved shooting over the weekend, in which a sheriff’s deputy fatally shot a suspect after the man shot a police officer during a chase.

The wounded officer was struck in the leg and has been identified as 36-year-old Corporal Ralph Hunnefeld from the New Smyrna Beach Police Department. Hunnefeld was taken to a local hospital where he is currently recovering from his injury, according to a statement from the department.

The chase that led to the deadly police-involved shooting was prompted after the gunman, later identified as 25-year-old Matthew Thomas of Holly Hill, ignored a traffic stop at about 4 p.m. at Nova and Spruce Creek road on Saturday and “took off fleeing recklessly at high speed,” the department said.

Officers and a Volusia sheriff’s deputy joined in chasing Thomas, who was seen driving a green Lincoln sedan.

The deputy deployed stop sticks shortly before the suspect reached the area of Turnbull Street and Industrial Park Avenue in New Smyrna Beach. The suspect crashed his car outside a storage facility.

Police said Thomas bailed fled his vehicle and began firing multiple rounds at police, hitting Hunnefeld in the leg.

“Around 4:17 p.m., the officer was shot. Moments later, the suspect was shot by return fire,” according to the police statement.

The officer who returned fire was identified as Deputy Brady Bergeron from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. The office released the body-camera footage on Sunday.

“The officers and deputies involved have been temporarily placed on administrative leave, as is standard,” the office added.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood called the video “harrowing” at a press briefing on Sunday and also released a statement on Twitter after he visited the wounded police corporal.

Chitwood praised officers as “incredible people who risk their own safety to protect others.”

“There are good men and women in uniform kissing their families goodbye every day and night not knowing what the coming hours might have in store for them,” the sheriff added. “The very least we can do it say thank you and keep them in our prayers, always.”

Chitwood said after visiting Hunnefeld, a former Marine, that he seemed to be “in good spirits” surrounded by his friends and family.

“Thank God he survived,” the sheriff said. “I can’t tell you what a relief it is to see that as opposed to the unthinkable tragedies we have seen all too often all around this country,” he added.