Collier County deputy cleared again after shooting and killing a man last September

A family and community have to relive the pain of losing a beloved member. A Collier County Sheriff’s deputy has been cleared once again after being involved in a shooting that left a man dead.

An internal investigation conducted by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office says that the deputy was acting reasonably and within office policy when he chose to use his gun instead of his Taser.

However, the family and many in the community believe the state attorney’s office and the sheriff’s office failed them.

Nicolas Morales, 37, was shot and killed in September of 2020 after he was banging on someone’s door with a shovel and garden shears. He didn’t put them down when deputies asked him to.

Dashcam video shows the moment that Collier County Corporal Pierre Jean shot and killed Morales.

Now, for a second time, an investigation has ruled that Jean’s actions were, indeed, justifiable. First the state attorney’s office ruled, now the Collier County Sheriff’s Office has.

Rosa Cruz Hernandez and her mother knew Morales and say they talked to him all of the time. They wonder why once the deputy arrived on scene, after eight seconds, he decided to use deadly force.

“They have two options and his option was to shoot I feel like that should be like the very last resort he had a taser like right next to his weapon,” said Cruz Hernandez.

“I just hope that something is done because just letting someone walk away and get away with murder is not acceptable,” she said.

The lawyer for the Morales family has no intention of letting Corporal Jean, or the other deputies on scene, walk away. Brent Probinsky is the family’s lawyer and plans to file a lawsuit to hold everyone at the scene accountable.

“We believe it was not justifiable. The way they confronted this man instead of defraying the situation he posed no threat to anyone in what he did,” said Probinsky.

Probinsky says the man with garden shears did not pose a deadly threat to the deputies on scene.

“I mean, Corporal Jean use of force exceeded anything that was necessary in this encounter and it was his trigger happiness and willingness to use his gun when it wasn’t necessary or called for,” Probinsky said.

Probinsky promises to expose the Collier County Sheriff’s Office for actions he deems “cruel” and “excessive.”

That lawyer hopes the state will do its own independent investigation of what happened that night in Immokalee. He does not yet know when the lawsuit will be filed because there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Drew Hill
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