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Deputy Brandon Watson, Volusia County Sheriff's Office, Florida

2018 State and Local Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery Recipient

On August 3, 2018, a woman from a domestic violence victim’s advocacy center called the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office to report that a man in Seville, Florida, who was armed with a knife, was actively beating the mother of his children. Deputy Brandon Watson was the first to arrive on the scene. Due to a high call volume and the geography of the area, the next responding deputy was 25 miles away. Although knowing the potential danger that exists in any domestic violence incident, and aware of the possibility that the victim could be injured, Deputy Watson did not hesitate to take action.

Deputy Watson was met with resistance from the outset. The deputy found the suspect and a friend sitting on an outdoor stairway at the address given by the caller. The two men denied any disturbance or altercation had occurred, and they were not forthcoming with any further information as the deputy tried to get answers. Adding to the difficulty was a language barrier; the two men were communicating with each other in Spanish, while giving little information to Deputy Watson in English.

Then the victim came out of the doorway. She did not appear to be able to speak much English either, but she handed her cell phone to Deputy Watson. On the other end of the line was the caller from the abuse victim’s center who explained the victim was in immediate danger and needed help. After Deputy Watson handed back the phone, the suspect stayed in the stairway, blocking the deputy from the victim and preventing him from speaking with her. The victim’s children started coming out onto the elevated porch to see what was happening. When the victim finally tried to show Deputy Watson her bruises and make her voice heard, the suspect advanced on her, grabbing her and moving closer to the edge of the porch.

Deputy Watson did not wait for the victim to be injured; he went up the stairs and deployed his Taser on the suspect. The suspect fell to the ground but refused to comply with any of the deputy’s orders. The suspect was actively resisting as the children were screaming in the background. The suspect’s friend, who was still on the stairs and a few feet away, presented another potential threat. At this point, the suspect grabbed the deputy’s Taser. Deputy Watson pleaded and yelled repeatedly for the suspect to let go of the weapon, with no effect. The suspect stated he wanted to die in front of his family. He continued resisting, and eventually grabbed Watson’s Taser a second and final time. Deputy Watson fired his service weapon to stop the threat, and the suspect ultimately succumbed to his injuries.

Deputy Watson acted decisively in a complex situation to protect not only the life of the domestic victim but also his own and the lives of the bystanders, the children.

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