Famous show director hit by deputy’s unprovoked attack

Image copyright Baldwin Fitzgerald/Facebook Image caption The audiovisual filming for the TV series ‘Rust’ was taking place at a historic building near Homestead, Florida The sheriff of Baldwin County, where an escaped convict is…

Famous show director hit by deputy's unprovoked attack

Image copyright Baldwin Fitzgerald/Facebook Image caption The audiovisual filming for the TV series ‘Rust’ was taking place at a historic building near Homestead, Florida

The sheriff of Baldwin County, where an escaped convict is on the run, has explained why his deputy shot a man.

James Johnson shot an unarmed Mexican immigrant while he was attempting to steal a parking space from “Rust” show director Baldwin Fitzgerald, the sheriff said.

It was an unprovoked attack, including an alleged attempted murder.

Mr Johnson, 26, from San Antonio, Texas, is a former inmate who escaped from a north Florida jail in February and went on the run in Homestead, Florida.

He faces multiple felony charges, including escape. He is believed to be armed and dangerous, the sheriff’s office said.

However, he has said that the deputy, who he has not named, was not under a threat at the time and the shooting was “reasonable”.

A spokesperson for a television studio where the shooting took place said it had finished filming for the day when the shooting happened.

There were about 80 shots fired in all, including those from a real firearm fired by the deputy, said Baldwin Fitzgerald, co-director of the TV series Rust.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Officers speak to the deputy, not pictured, who shot Mr Johnson

The father of the victim claims that no shots were fired by Mr Johnson.

The deputy was attending a scene for the TV series when he spotted a parked car, which was blocking the space, said Sheriff Chief Raymond Boughton, adding that he fired because he thought Mr Johnson had a gun.

He hit Mr Johnson once in the stomach.

“The plan was that he was going to steal the vehicle,” the sheriff said.

“That was the whole reason he was up there. He got a spot where he could hide and then he was going to rummage through the car, take the car keys out, they weren’t in the car.”

When the officer arrived at the scene, Mr Johnson gave him the keys and said, “you know what, whatever you’re thinking man, thanks for following me”, the sheriff added.

After Mr Johnson was shot, he gave himself up and officers took him to Homestead Memorial Hospital.

Mr Johnson later admitted that he had stolen the car on a previous occasion, the sheriff said.

He was jailed for the theft at 20:01 hours on 15 February, and released nine hours later.

Update

On Sunday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began an investigation into the shooting, Florida’s Office of the Inspector General also opened a parallel inquiry.

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