November 18, 2016
Fort Walton Beach – A Fort Walton Beach man was fatally wounded Friday after trying to take a deputy’s gun during a struggle at a townhome on Gap Creek Drive near Fort Walton Beach. Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Deputies were attempting to serve the individual a warrant for three separate felonies when he turned violent.
Three deputies went to the townhome around 10:11 a.m. after receiving information that 35-year old Joseph Leland Fletcher was inside. The OCSO has been actively seeking Fletcher on charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance, and fleeing and eluding with disregard for the safety of persons or property.
When located inside a closet, Fletcher initially acted as if he was going to comply with deputy’s commands, but then became violent. One deputy deployed his Taser which was ineffective. During the struggle, Fletcher then began trying to get his hands on another deputy’s gun and eventually gained control of it. That’s when a third deputy, who confirmed that Fletcher had the weapon, fired one shot, striking Fletcher in the chest.
Deputies immediately began rendering aid and called in EMS to continue the effort. Fletcher was later pronounced dead.
The encounter was captured on agency body worn cameras. Per standard procedure, the deputies are on paid administrative leave while an investigation is conducted. Forensic evidence will be turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for evaluation. Once the investigation is concluded, the findings will be reviewed by the State Attorney’s Office.