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Grand jury clears St. Lucie County deputies in deadly deputy-involved shooting

Posted at 1:33 PM, Apr 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-18 13:35:34-04

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — A grand jury has cleared five St. Lucie County deputies in a deadly deputy-involved shooting from November.

The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office said it set up an undercover operation on Nov. 17, 2018 to buy heroin from 27-year-old Rio Thomas, a suspected drug dealer in St. Lucie and Martin Counties.

After the deal was made, an unmarked agency vehicle pulled in behind Thomas' car.

Sheriff Ken Mascara said Thomas put his car into reverse and struck a deputy's vehicle, injured a deputy.

Investigators said Thomas then accelerated toward other deputies, who were forced to fire several shots, killing him.

"Unfortunately, Mr. Thomas’ actions, more importantly his inactions, caused a domino of events which directly led to his death," said Sheriff Mascara in a statement. "Not only was Mr. Thomas using his vehicle as a deadly weapon, there were two firearms, including a loaded KelTec 9 mm handgun, in the vehicle, one under his seat and one near the center console."

After reviewing all the evidence in the case, a grand jury determined the deputies use of force was justified.

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