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Officers involved in deaths of suspects return to duty

3-1-2014 Florida:

Law enforcement officers involved in three separate violent confrontations in January have been placed back on duty while state investigations of the incidents continue.

Eustis police said detective Gary Winheim, who shot to death an armed man on Jan. 7, returned to work on Jan. 16 after the department’s command staff and a representative from the State Attorney’s Office met with Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators.

“The evidence clearly indicated the use of force was warranted under the circumstances presented,” Police Chief Fred Cobb said on Thursday.

FDLE will turn over the results of its investigations to the State Attorney’s Office, which will determine if any charges will be filed in the cases. A FDLE spokeswoman said Thursday that none of the three investigations has been completed, so they can’t comment on any of them.

The shooting occurred at Laurel Oaks Apartments in Leesburg. Three detectives from the Leesburg and Eustis Police departments, including Winheim, went to the complex and met with 47-year-old Vernum Blunk to talk about allegations of sexual misconduct with a child and possession of child pornography. Police said at some point during the investigation, Blunk armed himself with a handgun that had been concealed in the room and threatened the Eustis detective.

A Lake County Sheriff’s deputy is also back on duty after shooting a man armed with a knife on Jan. 22. According to sheriff’s officials, deputies had responded to reports of a suicidal man in the Lake Crescent Pines East community, just south of Clermont.

Deputies reportedly found 24-year-old Ian Saum armed with a large knife and it appeared that he had injured himself with it prior to the officers’ arrival. Saum reportedly confronted deputies in a threatening manner with the knife and was given several verbal commands to drop it, which were ignored. Sheriff’s officials said deputies used a stun gun on the suspect, but it appeared to have little or no effect on him.

“Saum continued to confront deputies in a threatening manner by advancing towards them with the knife, and at that point one of the deputies was forced to utilize his sidearm,” said Sgt. James Vachon, sheriff’s spokesman, in an earlier interview.

The shooting was not fatal and Lt. John Herrell, another sheriff’s spokesman, said there has been discussions by investigators whether to charge Saum. Herrell added they have not identified the master deputy who fired the shot, due to the FDLE’s pending investigation.

But according to a document dated Jan. 29 from Chief Deputy Peyton Grinnell, a preliminary administrative review determined that the deputy was “found to be within the statutory authority given to law enforcement officers for the use of force, consistent with the agency’s use-of-force training.”

The deputy was placed back on active duty.

Clermont police officers also have returned to duty in a case where a South Lake Hospital patient, Wayne Donavan Reid, died on Jan. 31 after a struggle with them.

According to police, the patient was being transferred to a mental facility by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office when he became combative with the hospital staff and security. Clermont police officers Jason Sayre, Daniel Moser, John Lee and Jeremy Kevitt, were called to the scene. When they arrived, the man calmed down but became combative again with police and deputies.

Clermont police Capt. Michael McMaster added that sometime after being restrained by law enforcement and medical staff, the man died.

The Medical Examiner’s Office would not release the cause of death, citing the ongoing investigation. However, one law enforcement official who didn’t want to be identified said the man died after doctors gave him a sedative.

McMaster said the Clermont officers involved in the incident have been placed back on duty. Herrell said none of the deputies involved in the hospital incident were suspended. ..Source.. by Millard K. Ives

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