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April 2, 2012 — Dade City

Justin Plaza’s aunt called authorities at around 11:30 p.m. to report that Plaza was acting erratically and brandishing a gun in front of her and his mother.

Plaza, an Army veteran who had served two tours in Afghanistan, suffered from anxiety and depression and smoked synthetic marijuana. Just one week before, neighbors called 911 after Plaza emptied a handgun into a tree. He was taken into custody by police under the Baker Act and later released by the VA hospital.

On this night, when deputies arrived, Plaza, 23, warned them not to come in the house. Read more

At around 2 a.m., Plaza came out on the porch, yelling for officers to leave.

When he raised his gun, three members of a SWAT team — New Port Richey Police Officer Aaron Eck and Pasco County Sheriff's snipers Cpl. Marc Erickson and Deputy Robert Wilkins — fired their weapons, killing him.

All three were cleared in the shooting.

This was the 32nd police shooting in Florida in 2012.

One day earlier, one officer shot one person in Ocala .

Three days later, one officer shot one person in Kissimmee .

7 ways this case compares to others

  1. Deputy Wilkins was involved in one other shooting from 2009 to 2014. Eighty-five officers were involved in more than one shooting during that time period.
  2. Plaza was among the 7 percent of people who appeared to be on drugs before being shot.
  3. Plaza was shot after friends, family, or others called the police to ask for help in getting Plaza emergency mental health services. That’s a factor in 6 percent of cases.
  4. A SWAT or tactical team was involved in the incident. Tactical teams are involved in 7 percent of police shootings.
  5. Plaza was armed with a firearm. That’s true of almost half the people shot.
  6. Plaza showed signs of mental instability. Almost a third of all shootings involved someone who appeared mentally unstable.
  7. Plaza pointed a weapon at officers. Twenty-eight percent of shootings involved people who police say pointed a weapon at them.

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