ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- Before he was charged with murder Thursday, Eriese Alphonso Tisdale had a string of arrests on nonviolent and relatively minor crimes.
Nothing in Tisdale’s criminal history obtained Friday from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement indicated he would shoot and kill St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Sgt. Gary Morales as the deputy sat in his patrol car.
Tisdale’s rap sheet indicates he had been arrested eight times before he was charged Thursday with first-degree premeditated murder, assault on a law enforcement officer, possession of a weapon by a felon and resisting an officer by fleeing.
Tisdale was first arrested Oct. 12, 2007, in Palm Beach County or cocaine possession, a third-degree felony. Several more arrests followed, including two for probation violation, one by the Riviera Beach Police Department for possession of control substance without a prescription and marijuana possession with intent to sell, both third-degree felonies.
Subsequent arrests were for misdemeanors, including driving with a suspended license, resisting arrest without violence and possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana by the Port St. Lucie Police Department. He also was cited for failing to appear at court hearings.
“It’s bizarre,” said Jeff Gorman, a former assistant state attorney in St. Lucie County now an attorney in private practice in Stuart. “To be pulled over on a traffic stop and do this, that’s just bizarre. Normally the people who do this kind of thing have records that are more extensive, that include some violent crimes. In my experience, it’s very rare to see someone come out of the blue and do something so serious.”
Gorman, who worked as a prosecutor for nearly eight years, added: “Of course, you don’t know what the person might have done and not got caught at.”
Former Martin County Sheriff Bob Crowder agreed.
“It’s usually the case that a person goes through a series of increasingly serious crimes before they do something like this, like murder,” Crowder said. “But it depends on the situation at hand. If someone has a weapon, like this man did, maybe he was planning something. We just don’t know, but he obviously had some serious intent or he wouldn’t have been armed.”
Crowder, who was Martin County sheriff for 20 years, was a St. Lucie County undersheriff in 1991 when Fort Pierce police Sgt. Danny Parrish was shot 13 times after he pulled over Billy Kearse for driving the wrong way down a one-way street.
Kearse is now on death row.
“As I recall (Kearse) didn’t have much of a criminal record,” Crowder said. “He was just a kid, or 20 years old at the time.”
Crowder said each case, and each suspect, is different; and it’s the unknown that makes the job of law enforcement so difficult and dangerous.
“You never know what’s going to influence someone, what’s going to make a situation so urgent in their mind that they resort to violence,” Crowder said. “Maybe drugs were involved. Sometimes being involved in a domestic dispute causes people to do things they normally wouldn’t do.”