Brevard County deputy accused of fatally shooting roommate charged with manslaughter

Andrew Lawson, 22, ‘jokingly’ pulled trigger twice, affidavit shows

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A Brevard County deputy accused of shooting and killing his roommate, who was also a deputy, in December has been formally charged with manslaughter, according to a new filing.

Records show the state attorney’s office in Brevard County filed the charge on Jan. 27 against Andrew Lawson, 22. According to an arrest affidavit, Lawson, who was off-duty, “jokingly” pulled the trigger twice on Dec. 4 before the gun fired and killed Deputy Austin Walsh.

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The Palm Bay Police Department received a 911 call from Lawson, who said he “accidentally shot his roommate and needed help,” according to Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey.

The roommates had taken a break from playing “Call of Duty,” a first-person shooter video game, after being kicked off due to inactivity and were standing around talking when Lawson took out a Glock 34 9mm semi-automatic pistol, an affidavit shows.

According to the affidavit, Lawson believed the gun was unloaded and “jokingly” pointed it at Walsh, pulling the trigger. The gun did not go off, so Lawson manipulated the slide back before pulling the trigger for a second time, the sheriff’s office said.

This time, a single shot was fired and struck Walsh in the head, killing him, according to deputies.

Lawson immediately called 911 and was “distraught” and “devastated” when first responders arrived, Ivey said. Lawson cooperated fully with the investigation, which was conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Palm Bay Police Department.

Ivey said Lawson and Walsh were best friends and roommates.

The sheriff said Walsh had been with the agency since he was 18.

“Austin was such a great kid, and our hearts are broken over his loss. He will be deeply missed by our agency, our community and our prayers are with his family,” Ivey said.

Lawson’s defense attorney, Alan Landman, argued Lawson was extraordinarily foolish, but Landman also called the shooting a tragic accident.

“It was clearly an intentional act of pulling the trigger. Don’t get me wrong,” Landman said. “But under no circumstances did the deputy believe that the firearm was loaded. The two deputies were engaged in a video game, and they were somewhat recreating that environment, goofing off, and it just went wrong.”

Considering Deputy Lawson’s training with firearms, News 6 asked Ivey how the shooting could have happened.

“That’s something that we’ll talk about later as things come out,” Ivey answered after Walsh’s memorial service in December.

Landman said Lawson was not drinking that night, and whatever the outcome in court, Landman believes Lawson will likely never work in law enforcement again.

A judge allowed Lawson to live with his mother since posting his $15,000 bond.

The sheriff’s office said Lawson’s employment was terminated.

The former deputy’s next court date is scheduled in April.

If convicted of manslaughter, he could spend up to 15 years in prison.

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About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.