PBSO deputy will not face criminal charges in New Year's Eve fatal shooting

State Attorney says use of force was 'lawful'

A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy will not face criminal charges for a fatal officer-involved shooting on New Year’s Eve.

The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office says deputy Justin Rigney’s use of force was lawful when he shot and killed Ricky Whidden in Loxahatchee. But Ricky Whidden's family argues, that deputies didn't do enough to de-escalate the situation.

Ricky Whidden's mom called 911 after her son told her he wanted to commit suicide. She told deputies he did not threaten her, but that he was armed with a knife. Deputies say Whidden lunged at them with that knife, after they shot him twice with rubber bullets, and that's why he was ultimately shot and killed.

In a letter explaining their decision, the state attorney’s office says Whidden had prior mental health issues and was hospitalized two years earlier due to erratic thoughts.They also mention Whidden refused attempts by his family to follow a medication regimen.

The Whidden family is suing PBSO in federal court for excessive force, claiming video shows a different story than PBSO’s. The Whiddens say surveillance video, taken from a neighbor's house, shows Ricky running away from deputies, before he is fatally shot. The civil case is set for court in 2018.

FDLE also cleared Deputy Rigney of any wrongdoing in May. They were brought in to investigate, and make recommendations to the State Attorney.

A copy of the State Attorney's decision is attached.

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