Community shaken by officer-involved shooting
An officer-involved shooting by an Apalachicola police officer, on the Gorrie Bridge early Saturday morning, has left a community shaken.
Apalachicola Police Chief Bobby Varnes confirmed that one of the department’s officers while on-duty discharged his weapon sometime around 2:30 a.m. towards a motorist heading west on the bridge towards Apalachicola from Eastpoint.
He said the individual in the car was taken to a Panama City hospital, with non-life-threatening injuries.
Varnes directed all further questions to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which was on the scene soon after being notified about 20 minutes later.
“We are investigating the officer use of force, whether or not the use of force by the officer was legal,” said Gretl Plessinger, an FDLE spokeswoman. “Our case is active.”
She said the investigation would take several months, and that FDLE leaves it up to the local agencies connected to the incident to handle disclosure of information about such incidents.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is also investigating the incident, as well as the State Attorney’s Office. In a post on the department’s Facebook page, Sheriff A.J. Smith wrote that the officer sustained no injuries.
The incident shut down the bridge for several hours on Saturday morning until one lane of traffic was opened for traffic.
While law enforcement agencies have confirmed neither the officer nor the individuals’ identity, several posts on Facebook have indicated the driver was a young woman, of age 22 or 23, who resides in Gulf County.
Several individuals, who have identified themselves as the individual’s family or friends, have alleged on social media that the officer acted negligently and that the woman was acting innocently when the incident occurred.
Smith declined to publicly respond to the social media allegations, and said he would comment once his office has completed its investigation and the information is released.
He said that in addition to his department’s investigation as to whether or not criminal charges should be brought against anyone involved in the incident. the Florida Highway Patrol is conducting its investigation of the traffic issues involved, and FDLE is looking into whether the use of force was justified.