Eriese Tisdale recognized his fate when taken into custody, but said he acted from fear
By Elliott Jones/TC PALM
4:41 PM, Apr 3, 2013
6:05 PM, Apr 3, 2013
FORT PIERCE — The man accused of fatally shooting a deputy said he knew his life was over as soon as he was taken into custody — but he said he felt harassed before the shooting.
" ... I seen a gun," said Eriese Tisdale, 25, in an interview with investigators shortly after his arrest on a charge of murdering sheriff's deputy Sgt. Gary Morales the morning of Feb. 28 on the southern outskirts of Fort Pierce.
"That's what I seen ... I'm not crazy ... I was in fear of my life," according to a copy of the interview that Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers will be releasing throughout the day. The interview is part of about 800 pages in documents prepared for prosecuting Tisdale.
Tisdale has been indicted on a charge of first degree murder and prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.
He started the interview saying he was in his car going out to get a soda for his pregnant girlfriend.
"My story is, I don't have a (drivers) license and have a baby on the way. My girlfriend's pregnant and I just went to the store" near his apartment.
Then according to Tisdale, Morales picked him out for no reason, maybe "cause of my dreads, black guy in the neighborhood, maybe he didn't have ... nothing he could look for ... maybe he thought I was suspicious. "
As Tisdale describes it, the deputy "came and like almost cut me off with the lights ... and kind of rammed me and tried to stop me or whatever and I just didn't stop.
"And then when I, by the time I did stop he was like, ‘Get out of the car. ' And I was like, ‘For what?' ... "I was doing nothing ... I wasn't doing anything criminally wrong. "
Then Tisdale said he drove off because, "I was afraid about a lot of things.......I have respect for ... authority. But it's just danger is danger ...
"I was being harassed and I was in fear of my life ..."
According to sheriff's reports and prosecutors, the episode ended with Tisdale finally stopping, with Morales behind him in a patrol car. Tisdale, according to prosecutors, talked back to Morales and shot the deputy at point-blank range as the deputy sat in his patrol car in the 3200 block of Naylor Terrace.
That night sheriff's investigators searched Tisdale's nearby apartment and found guns — including a .44 magnum reported stolen from Okeechobee — ammunition, 16 cocaine rocks, a marijuana plant and grow light, a scale and $1,000, including $500 in a Bible.
In addition to murder, and charges related to it, he has been arrested on charges of cultivation of marijuana, possession of cocaine and a short-barreled shotgun, and possession of a firearm or ammunition by a convicted felon.
He is being held without bail in the Martin County Jail for security reasons.
Tisdale is a Palm Beach high school graduate who said, "I just migrated (to St. Lucie County), that is a long story.
The following are some of Tisdale's interview answers:
Q: What led up to the shooting at 9:28 a. m.?
A:"I don't hold grudges.....I understand that there's, there's laws and there's laws to be kept. But at the same time I felt like somebody was breaking a law against me ..."
Q: Why didn't he use a cell phone to record what the deputy was doing?
A: "I wa ... definitely was not gonna try and pull no cell phone at that time......Because, like I said, I was in fear of my life."
Q: What did he think the deputy was thinking?
A:" ... either you're gonna do what the hell I say or I'm gonna kill you, I'm gonna hurt you."
Q: What did he fear?
A:"Man, I did not want to be froze down, harassed with somebody's knee in my back, or the back of my neck with nobody around with a gun in my ... to the back of my head. Them looking around and me being at the mercy of this guy with, with a, a, a angry gun in his hand ... the truth is man I wanted to be able to go home. That's the truth. I wanted to go home alive. Not harmed."
"I just wanted to survive, man that's all. And I did ... I didn't wake up to say I'm gonna shoot an officer."
Q: What does he wants people to know?
A:"I just want to let the world know that on both ends of any conflict or any, um, address, there's kids in both families. There's mothers in both families ... I want you and everybody to know ... is that if I had been shot dead on the side of the road would you guys have the ... a pr..or would you guys treat this, this incident the same as if, as what happened today? If the law enforcement officer would've killed me on the side of the road, for to just go to the store, is there evidence to prove that he is ... you know, is there anyway ... or aer you guys gonna approach this the same way as you're approaching this here?"
"I'm the enemy here ... in his car he has a camera on his car, he, you guys have communication to say what's going on. I'm the only person ... my eyes are the only thing that seen what happened. Even if I say, whatever I say it doesn't matter because I don't have a camera showing what happened. I didn't have no kind, of . . . the evidence
is out there and I didn't approach him, he approached me."
Q: If a camera had recorded the events, what would it show?
A:"It's gonna show how he was chasing me me, how he approached me and how I. and, and how he ran me off the side of the road."
" ... he was reaching for his gun the whole time. ... he wanted to put force on me from the beginning. He didn't' say, he didn't say hey, uh, you know, let me see your license and registration."
Q: What other details does he remember?
A:" ... the adrenaline was rushing, so. I don't ... I, I can't tell you, detail for detail."
Q:Why did he flee after the shooting?
A:"...I just wanted to breathe again and see another day. So that's why I got back in, that's why I fled."
Q: What would he want Morales' family to know?
A:"I just want to tell his family that, huh, peace will be on them in due time. And I want to tell my family that peace will be on them in due time. Cause just because, just like that officer lost his life, I also lost my life."