Death of man in Daytona Beach officer-involved shooting ruled suicide

Police say officer's bullets missed Shakyri Willis

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - An armed, suicidal man who died Tuesday afternoon during an interaction with a police officer fatally shot himself, according to Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri.

A medical examiner who completed the autopsy for Shakyri Willis, 23, ruled the death a suicide. Willis suffered one gunshot wound to the left side of his neck.

Daytona Beach Police Officer Christopher Maher responded to 556 Bellevue Ave. at 12:07 in reference to a man armed with a gun making threats.

Capri said Willis was pointing a .40 caliber handgun at himself, toward his sister who was begging for him not to end his life and at Maher.

Maher was about 40 yards away when he shot at Willis four or five times, Capri said. However, an autopsy determined that Maher's bullets did not strike Willis.

Capri said it appears that Willis fatally shot himself in the head seconds after Maher fired his weapon. Willis died at the scene at 12:13 p.m. 

“The officer’s shots did miss Shakyri Willis, and he took his own life. He’s the victim here, Shakyri. It's about him; it's not about us. It's about Mr. Willis for two weeks trying to get help for mental illness,” Capri said.

Family members told authorities that Willis took some kind of narcotic, possibly LSD, about two weeks ago and has been suffering from a "psychedelic episode" ever since.

Willis went to Halifax Hospital Tuesday morning, hours before taking his life, seeking mental health services because he was feeling suicidal. It's not known what treatment he received while there, if any.

Capri and NAACP Daytona Beach president Cynthia Slater agreed during a news conference Wednesday that more needs to be done to provide the community with adequate medical and mental health services.

Slater called Willis a "victim of the system."

“This system that we have here in Daytona Beach as it relates to health care is broken, but I say here today that it can be and it will be fixed,” Slater said.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the shooting is ongoing and Maher has been placed on administrative leave until it is completed, which is standard procedure.

Capri said that he, Willis' family and the NAACP support the officer's actions.

Neighbor Gilbert Selors said he saw Tuesday's shooting and it was clear the officer did not want to fire his gun.

"He did everything in his power to try and get the situation under control. It just escalated. Tragedy," he said.

Willis' family plans to establish a GoFundMe to help cover funeral expenses.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline counselors are available to speak 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-8255. The service is free and confidential.

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