WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- Deputy Justin Clayton was off-duty last month when he told investigators a man on South Beach approached him with a knife and threatened to rob him.
Fearing for his life, Clayton fired, killing 25-year old Nicholas Burdett.
If only the story were that simple. Burdett had been on South Beach with his girlfriend. They'd just flown in hours earlier to celebrate his 25-th birthday and Burdett apparently had gone back to the beach to look for his sunglasses.
Those who knew him though want to know why this wealthy football star from Massachusetts would rob anyone.
"The profile just doesn't fit. It doesn't fit," says friend Paul Gardner.
Strangely, Burdett's body was also found in a lifeguard stand. A witness who did not wish for us to use their name, says they saw a bullet hole and blood in the lifeguard stand the day after the shooting. Loved ones question how Burdett, who was supposedly armed with a knife, could rob anyone while standing on a lifeguard stand.
"Based on the initial story that he approached the officer and tried to rob him and was found on the lifeguard stand where he died, it does not make any sense," says Gardner.
Miami Beach police meanwhile are still investigating and will not wrap up their case for another month. Deputy Clayton meanwhile has returned to duty, and did so a week after the shooting.
Loved ones did not want to comment publicly for fear it would jeopardize any possible legal case, but they question why Clayton is back at work when the investigation is on-going.
Teri Barbera with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office says Clayton was deemed fit for service and so returned to work and the status of the investigation had nothing to do with it. For years the department has routinely told the media that any deputy involved in a shooting is placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
"With so many questions, so many pieces that just don't fit, it's just terribly disappointing," says Gardner.
Copyright 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.