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Officer Keen’s Accused Killer Arrested Using Slain Officer’s Handcuffs

LaBelle, FL – The gunman accused of murdering Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) Wildlife Officer Julian Keen was arrested using the slain officer’s handcuffs, according to Officer Keen’s sister.

Ta’Lisha Keen posted photos of her 30-year-old brother’s handcuffs to Facebook on Monday.

The final image showed his accused killer being led away with his hands secured behind his back.

“My Brother’s Cuffs,” Ta’Lisha Keen wrote. “They Arrested His Killer With His Cuffs. Thank You FWC & Henry County.”

Officer Keen was off duty on Sunday when he witnessed a hit-and-run crash near the intersection of Apache Circle and Nobles Road, WEAR reported.

He followed the suspect’s vehicle until the driver, later identified as 20-year-old Eliceo Hernandez, pulled over, according to WINK.

“Once they were able to get the vehicle stopped, there was some sort of a conversation between them,” Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden said. “At some point, shots were fired, causing Officer Keen to die of his wounds at the scene.”

Hernandez has been charged with negligent homicide, according to WINK.

Two other individuals who were taken in for questioning have been released.

The Florida Highway Patrol Command Officers Association said in a Facebook post on Sunday that Officer Keen was murdered “while following his calling to protect and serve.”

“He was a genuine officer who would literally give his shirt off his back to ANYONE who needed it,” the association said. “Please pray for his family and law enforcement everywhere as we face these troubling times.”

Officer Keen’s murder is considered to be a line-of-duty death, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Sheriff Whidden said that investigators will do everything in their power to “bring about justice to those guilty in this shooting death,” WINK reported.

“This was a heartbreaker. It hit me personally and it hit this community personally,” Sheriff Whidden said. “We all knew Officer Keen, and he wasn’t only our brother but a role model for the community.”

Officer Keen served the FFWCC for six years, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“It’s not just the fact that he was law enforcement,” Sheriff Whidden told WINK. “It was the fact that he was a friend…everyone that has ever worked with him came out to pay their respects to their family and of course, the community.”

Officer Keen was a LaBelle native who went on to play football at Webber International University, WINK reported.

“He had so much heart. So much virtue and integrity,” said his close friend, Christopher Wills. “Anyone and everyone who has ever talked to Julian knows that he is just a ray of sunlight in a dark world…He really was one of the greats. He was the best of us.”

The community will hold a vigil in Officer Keen’s honor on Wednesday, WINK reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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