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Battle for their lives: Dashcam shows ambush of Florida deputies during a traffic stop

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Madeleine Marr

Miami Herald

Two Florida deputies were ambushed during a traffic stop in Brevard County.

According to recently released dashcam video from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, a routine traffic stop turned violent in West Melbourne, with one person ending up dead.

It all started when deputies pulled over a car about 1 p.m. Aug. 30 on U.S. 192, just west of Interstate 95.

“At one point during the traffic stop the passenger at the back seat of the car with a 2-month-old baby … was asked to exit the vehicle at which time he immediately exited and produced a short stock rifle when he began firing at the deputy closest to him,” Sheriff Wayne Ivey said.

At the start of the video, released on Thursday, one officer, Deputy Tyler Thoman, calmly talks to a woman near the patrol car as a man in red shorts leans on the trunk of the stopped sedan. Deputy Brian Potters peers into the back seat of the car, even joking with the person inside.

“I’ll watch him for you,” Potters says, talking about the infant inside the car. “I got babies, too, man. He’s all right.”

Suddenly, the back door opens, and a man, later identified as Paris Wilder, leaps out and starts shooting multiple rounds, according to the sheriff’s office.

“S—!” screams Potters as he scrambles for cover behind the patrol car. “I’m hit!”

Both the man in red shorts and woman flee while the deputies trade gunfire with Wilder, who appears to be limping.

At one point, Ivey says Wilder’s gun jammed so he used the butt of the rifle to hit Potters repeatedly in the head as they struggled to the ground.

Deputy Thoman appears and fires several shots into the ground, killing Wilder, not seen in the frame.

Ivey said Potters suffered a gunshot wound to the leg, head lacerations, a concussion and facial fractures, but is expected to make a full recovery.

“As you can clearly see in the video, both of our deputies were in a battle for their lives as this disgusting and evil individual had a blatant disregard for their lives, the lives of others at the scene, and the life of a 2-month-old baby in the car,” Ivey said. “When I tell you, we are blessed that God was watching over our deputies and those present at the scene, I mean it from the bottom of my heart.”

Wilder was wanted on several warrants, with 23 felony arrests on such charges as assault and attempted murder.

Both Potters and Thoman are on paid administrative leave, pending a customary investigation.

©2021 Miami Herald. Visit miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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