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Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Thursday, March 20, 2014
State clears deputy in fatal shooting
Suspect fired first, FDLE finds

State investigators said Wednesday the shooting death of an armed Islamorada man by a Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputy was justified and no criminal charges will be filed.

Monroe County Chief Assistant State Attorney Manny Madruga reviewed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's final report of the incident and came to the same conclusion as those investigators: Deputy Luis Gomez reacted reasonably and with appropriate use of force when he shot Robert Parlette Jr. on Oct. 25.

"It was reasonable for the officer to have apprehension that his life and the lives of others were at risk based on the suspect firing his handgun in the presence of the officer and in the officer's direction," Madruga said. "There were numerous verbal commands for him to drop the weapon, and instead of de-escalating the situation, the suspect escalated the situation and fired."

Madruga added there were shots fired before deputies arrived on scene, and that Parlette's wife had already fled the scene in fear of her life.

Gomez was one of the first deputies to respond to a shots fired call at 118 Bayview Isles Drive in the upscale Venetian Shores neighborhood.

As Gomez approached Parlette Jr. at his canalside backyard, the 73-year-old opened fire on the deputy with a .45-caliber handgun, according to the sheriff's office. Gomez returned fire with one fatal shot to Parlette's chest.

Gomez and other deputies on scene began to administer first-aid to Parlette after the shooting, according to sheriff's office reports and the FDLE investigative report.

It was the first killing of a suspect by a deputy since the 1960s.

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay has been vocal about his belief that Gomez acted appropriately.

"I have continued to say from the beginning that the sheriff's office has great men and women and it's a difficult job that at times requires them to put their lives in jeopardy," Ramsay said. "Here an officer was shot at and he made the toughest decision any lawman has to make, but he did the right thing and when we're right we stand by our people. Right from the beginning, I knew that he acted correctly. I welcomed the FDLE investigation and when we're wrong we're transparent and open as well."

Gomez was hired on April 7, 2004, and in that time has had no internal affairs investigations, 14 commendations and letters of recognition and four nondiscipline letters of counseling for minor infractions.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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