VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Here’s the bullet-proof vest to save the life of a Daytona Beach officer.
Officer Dominic Besse was shot in the chest this past Saturday. Police Chief Craig Capri said he is certain officers gave the attempted murder suspect several opportunities to peacefully surrender before they returned fire and killing the suspect.
Besse has been with the department since 2008.
Before Besse is shot, he begins to enter the room where the suspect ran to with his assault rifle raised. As the door opens, the suspect is seen on video pointing a gun at the officer but Besse doesn’t fire, instead of yelling again, “hands!”
“He gave him several chances,” Capri said. “When he went into the room he gave him a chance, said ‘let me see your hands,’ and next thing you see is the suspect’s arm extended and it’s kind of dark in the room, but you see the muzzle flash go off.”
Capri said suspect Michael Harris fired at least four times, the first time hitting Besse, whose life was saved by his bullet-proof vest.
“We wish we didn’t have to use a type of deadly force, we wish we had time to de-escalate, because we’ve been training de-escalation for years now,” Capri said. “But the suspect didn’t give us an opportunity to de-escalate the situation, he opened fire.”
Besse fell back when he was hit, but then got up and fired through the door into the room where the suspect was holed up.
“The officer, he stayed in the fight, and that’s what we train our officers to do,” Capri said. “Never quit, never give up.”
After police began firing into the room, they heard the voice of a woman screaming who was inside the room with the suspect.
Capri believes officers had no idea she had been in there.
“The suspect was there with the gun,” Capri said. “Unfortunately the main focus is at that time the suspect with the gun, the threat.”
The video doesn’t show it and Capri has not spoken with the officer because the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has taken over the investigation, but Capri believes the officers could see the door opening and closing and the woman behind it, which is why they continued to fire into the room at Harris.
In the video, the woman can be heard agreeing to put her hands up and she is seen running outside.
Once the woman was safe, officers continued to fire into the room, killing Harris. He was hit around nine times, according to Capri.
“When we get shot at and have to use deadly force, we are trained to kill and neutralize a threat,” Capri said. “So you don’t just shoot to injure, you shoot to kill, that’s how we’re trained.”
Michael Harris was arrested most recently in July for felony battery, according to jail records.
Capri said officers were at the apartment Saturday looking to arrest Harris for an Aug. 18 shooting at a motel where a woman was shot in the back.