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Group calls Collier County deputy-involved shooting an ‘outrage’

“Outrage” is the only word being used to describe a deadly deputy-involved shooting in Collier County.

A civil rights group says they dispute claims that Nicholas Morales-Bessannia charged at deputies with a gardening tool, and they want to know why it took so long for deputies to pull the K-9 off.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers says they aren’t satisfied with the state’s report and that deputies mishandled the situation that unfolded in Immokalee on Sept. 17.

Rev. Dan Lambert calls the death of Morales-Bessannia, 37, the “most egregious tragedy” that shouldn’t have happened, and might not have had a mental health expert been there to de-escalate the situation.

“The result would’ve been probably just a footnote in the daily police reports, but instead, we have a dead citizen and two officers whose decisions and careers have been called into question.”

Lambert and his Unitarian Fellowship do social justice work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. They released an edited version of dashcam video that shows the shooting and allege the responding Collier County sheriff’s deputies chose guns over Tasers, didn’t try to speak to Morales-Bessannia in Spanish, allowed a K-9 to maul Morales-Bessannia after he’d been shot, and waited a full minute to administer first aid.

The State Attorney’s Office on Thursday cleared both deputies involved in the shooting, saying in their report that the use of force was “lawful and legal.”

But Lambert, like the Coalition, is still questioning what happened.

“It was unfortunate that they came so quickly and responded the way that they did. Clearly, in the video, you can see the shovel, and a shovel is not a deadly weapon, certainly not in the same way that a firearm is.”

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers also says they don’t think the deputies assessed the possibility that Morales-Bessannia was in the middle of a mental health crisis.

The sheriff’s office is conducting its own investigation to make sure agency policies and procedures were followed.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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