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July 31, 2010 — Sebring

Deputy Steven Ritenour responded to a home in Sebring after a 911 call from a woman stating that her mother's boyfriend was drunk and trying to get into the house.

Deputy Ritenour arrived, pulled into the driveway and saw Peter Russo, 51, standing next to an SUV with the driver's door ajar. Russo, a former president of the Sebring Lions Club, had sustained a traumatic brain injury at 24 when he was shot.

He was deaf in his left ear and blind in his right eye, family said. When Russo turned, Deputy Ritenour saw that Russo was holding a knife and a gun. Ritenour said Russo began coming toward him despite Ritenour's shouted commands. Read more

Russo then began to raise the gun and Ritenour fired six shots, hitting Russo three times. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Police learned that the gun was a toy cap pistol, painted black, given to Russo by his father as a collectible.

Ritenour was cleared by the state attorney and an administrative review.

This was the 60th police shooting in Florida in 2010.

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

Two days later, two officers shot one person in Spring Hill .

6 ways this case compares to others

  1. Russo approached police in a threatening manner before being shot. That's true in almost 10% of police shootings.
  2. Russo did not immediately comply with police instruction, a factor in nearly a quarter of shootings.
  3. Russo was armed with a toy weapon. Only four other people were armed the same way.
  4. Russo were involved in a domestic disturbance, a factor in 115 cases.
  5. Russo were drinking alcohol before being shot. That’s true in about 10 percent of police shootings.
  6. Russo pointed a weapon at officers. Twenty-eight percent of shootings involved people who police say pointed a weapon at them.

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