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Oct. 5, 2009 — Ocala

Deputy Zackary Hughes responded to a disturbance at a mobile home in Marion County.

When Hughes arrived, he was led by the caller, Mitchell Tavernier, 49, to the entrance of the home. At the door, Tavernier told Hughes that his father, Thomas Tavernier, 80, had threatened to burn the residence down and that he might possess weapons.

He also told Hughes that his mother was in the beginnings of Alzheimer's and that his father was “having problems.” Through the door’s windows, Hughes could see Thomas Tavernier approaching the entrance. The officer then saw a handgun in the Thomas Tavernier’s hand and told him to drop the weapon and identify himself. Read more

Tavernier ignored Hughes and fired two shots at the officer. Hughes was hit in the face by glass and bullet shrapnel. Officer Hughes fired four shots back at the Tavernier through the door and retreated.

Thomas Tavernier was injured in his stomach and right hand. Law enforcement later made contact with Tavernier over the phone and persuaded him to leave the mobile home. He was handcuffed and taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries. He was charged with second-degree attempted murder and sentenced to life in prison.

This was the 104th police shooting in Florida in 2009.

Three days earlier, one officer shot one person in West Palm Beach .

One day later, one officer shot one person in Dade City .

5 ways this case compares to others

  1. Tavernier was shot after injuring an officer. That was true in 8 percent of shootings.
  2. Tavernier was shot after friends, family, or others called the police to ask for help in getting Tavernier emergency mental health services. That’s a factor in 6 percent of cases.
  3. Tavernier fired shots at police, which happened in 15 percent of shootings.
  4. Tavernier was armed with a firearm. That’s true of almost half the people shot.
  5. Tavernier showed signs of mental instability. Almost a third of all shootings involved someone who appeared mentally unstable.

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