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April 22, 2014 — Merritt Island

The Brevard County Sheriff's Office responded to a report that a man, William Poplos, was firing a gun in his girlfriend's home.

Poplos, 58, had threatened the woman, Geraldine O'Meara, 82, with a handgun. He also threatened to hurt himself.

O'Meara said Poplos was an alcoholic. During an argument, a naked Poplos raised the handgun to his own temple, then pointed it at O'Meara. Then he fired three gunshots into a wall. O'Meara escaped to a neighbor's house. Read more

A deputy called Poplos from the neighbor's home and told Poplos to come outside with his hands up. Poplos said he was putting on some pants and would come outside but refused to put down the gun.

Several deputies surrounded the house and said Poplos walked outside with a gun in his right hand, then raised it at deputies.

Five deputies started shooting. Poplos was pronounced dead at the hospital. An internal inquiry and a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation deemed that the deputies were justified to use deadly force.

This was the 39th police shooting in Florida in 2014.

Two days earlier, one officer shot one person in Kissimmee .

Two days later, two officers shot one person in Lehigh Acres .

7 ways this case compares to others

  1. A SWAT or tactical team was involved in the incident. Tactical teams are involved in 7 percent of police shootings.
  2. Poplos was armed with a firearm. That’s true of almost half the people shot.
  3. Poplos was involved in a domestic disturbance, a factor in 115 cases.
  4. Poplos was shot after resisting arrest. A total of 114 people were shot while resisting arrest.
  5. Poplos was drinking alcohol before being shot. That’s true in about 10 percent of police shootings.
  6. Poplos showed signs of mental instability. Almost a third of all shootings involved someone who appeared mentally unstable.
  7. Poplos pointed a weapon at officers. Twenty-eight percent of shootings involved people who police say pointed a weapon at them.

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