Orange County Sheriff's Office claims 'stand your ground' in deadly shooting

William Charbonneau shot, killed in 2016

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A judge has ruled an Orange County sheriff's deputy accused of fatally shooting a suicidal man cannot claim "stand your ground" immunity in a lawsuit filed against the Sheriff's Office.

According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Bill Charbonneau, 43, was shot and killed by Deputy Richard Nye on Aug. 24, 2016.

Investigators said three deputies responded to Charbonneau's home on Marsh Lilly Drive that night in response to a suicidal subject. 

According to an investigation conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Nye said he saw Charbonneau reach for the trigger on the rifle that was next to him on the ground in his backyard.

"Oh, my God, this is where it's going to be happening," he told investigators. "I am too close... he's going to do something, and I am done.  I could literally feel it in my chest.  So, I shot," Nye said.

Investigators said Nye shot Charbonneau five times.

Charbonneau's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Orange County Sheriff's Office in 2017, where they claimed "Deputy Nye escalated the situation."

OCSO attorneys asked the court to grant them and Deputy Nye immunity in the lawsuit, using the "stand your ground" argument.

Ninth Circuit Judge Chad Alvaro reviewed the body worn camera footage from that night. News 6 has obtained a copy of it.

In the footage, deputies are seen ordering Charbonneau to get his hands off of his weapon.

"Do not do it, Bill.  Leave it alone, Bill," they're heard saying.

On April 4, Judge Alvaro denied the "stand your ground" defense.

He wrote,

"Law enforcement officers, like Deputy Nye, must make split-second life and death decisions knowing that their actions will later be analyzed and deconstructed by those having the benefit of both time and hindsight, neither of which is available to the officers in those critical moments. The Court acknowledges all of that, but, under the facts and circumstances adduced at the Hearing, finds that Defendant has failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that a prudent person under like circumstances would have reasonably believed that using deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or others." 

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Charbonneau's family is scheduled to go to mediation in August.

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