Seville, FL – The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office is “taking steps” to improve deputy response times in a rural part of the county where a deputy-involved fatal shooting took place over the weekend.
VCSO made that announcement via e-mail to media outlets earlier today (August 6th) as a response to numerous questions about Friday night’s incident at an apartment complex on U.S. 17 in Seville.
Agency spokesperson Andrew Gant says one of those “steps” is to make more deputies available to respond to calls in Seville quicker.
“At least two Volusia County sheriff’s deputies are dispatched to all priority calls, including domestic violence-related calls,” Gant noted. “A second deputy was dispatched to Friday’s call, too. However, that deputy was traveling from DeLand to the remote incident location in Seville, a distance of about 25 miles.”
One of the more frequent questions VCSO has fielded since the death of 29-year-old Emmanuel Alquisiras (shirtless man in picture above), according to Gant, is why it took so long for backup to arrive after Deputy Brandon Watson – who’s been with VCSO since 2015 – responded to the scene to perform a well-being check on a woman who was with Alquisiras at the time.
Body camera footage provided by VCSO of the incident shows no backup officer on scene when Watson shot and killed Alquisiras, a move Watson said in the video was forced because Alquisiras managed to get his hands on Watson’s Taser while the two men were physically struggling with one another.
WARNING: Explicit language used in the video. Faces of victims involved were blurred by VCSO prior to release. Actual shooting takes place at 8:50 mark.
On the night of the shooting, Watson was the only officer patrolling that part of Volusia County, something Gant says is normal because Seville is a small community of less than 700 people which normally doesn’t generate a lot of service calls for VCSO, especially compared to more populated parts of Volusia.
“The reality has always been that fewer deputies are available to immediately respond to a call in Seville than in Deltona,” Gant added. “The video of Friday’s incident is a clear illustration of that reality.”
The initial call for help came from someone who was reporting third-hand to VCSO that Alquisiras was battering a woman, according to Gant.
“We believe that had the deputy not approached the residence to check on her – and had she turned out to be injured or worse – then we would be facing a different set of questions today,” Gant said.
Other “steps” VCSO is considering is to request aid from law enforcement in neighboring counties who might be able to respond faster and to inform the first responder on scene where backup units are coming from and when they might arrive.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating Alquisiras’ death. Deputy Watson has been placed on paid administrative leave by VCSO until that investigation is complete, but Sheriff Mike Chitwood has said publicly that he believes Watson did nothing wrong based on the body camera video.