FDLE investigation into PBSO deputy involved shooting complete, in hands of State Attorney

Posted at 5:44 PM, Jun 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-29 21:24:39-04

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into a deputy-involved shooting is complete.

Now it's up to the Palm Beach County State Attorney to decide whether to file criminal charges. 

On New Year's Eve in Loxahatcheee, Palm Beach Sheriff's Office K-9 deputy Justin Rigney shot and killed 46-year-old Ricky Whidden who had previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

He was responding to a 911 call from Whidden's family. His mother said she told the 911 dispatcher that her son had a mental illness, a knife in his hand, but was not threatening them. She said Whidden asked them to call because he wanted help.

PBSO claims Rigney shot Whidden because he lunged at deputies with a knife. 

But the Whidden family claims a neighbor's surveillance video, which recorded the shooting on tape, shows Whidden running away from deputies when he was shot. 

Whidden was initially shot twice with rubber bullets, falling twice.  However, both times he was able to get back up and run away before deputies could gain control of him. The family claims the video then shows him turn around and run in a different direction.

The sheriff's office said the deputy fired when Whidden ran toward him with a knife in his hand.

PBSO says the deputy was in "fear for his life, and his fellow officers' lives."

The State Attorney told Contact 5, there is no timetable for when he will make a decision on whether to file criminal charges or clear the deputy.

Contact 5 has learned PBSO moved Rigney out of the K-9 unit, after an unrelated investigation.

He has been placed on road patrol in Wellington.

When asked why he was reassigned, a PBSO spokesperson said it was "because of an ongoing investigation," according to a sheriff's office spokesperson Thursday.

Contact 5 requested records to find out what sparked the new investigation.