Lithia, FL – A Hillsborough County deputy was stabbed in the neck while trying to assist mental health personnel on Sunday (video below).
The incident occurred at a residence in the Fishhawk Ranch area on the afternoon of Oct. 11, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) said in a press release on Monday.
Deputies responded to the home to assist Gracepoint, a local mental health services facility, “with an involuntary mental health evaluation” involving 21-year-old Nicolas Furgason, according to the HCSO.
After completing an hour-long evaluation, Furgason was told he was going to be admitted to Gracepoint under Florida’s Baker Act.
He responded by fleeing from the home and immediately ran into a nearby “heavily wooded area,” the sheriff’s office said.
HCSO Deputy Charles Williams chased after him on foot while Deputy Nicolas Cruz followed behind in a patrol vehicle.
“After a brief pursuit, Deputy Williams came into contact with Furgason on a wooded trail and in an effort to calm him down, used de-escalation techniques,” the sheriff’s office said.
Bodycam footage showed the deputy as he spoke with Furgason on the trail’s edge.
He asked Furgason if he was scared, and Furgason immediately responded that he was.
Deputy Williams told him that running wouldn’t help the situation, and explained that they needed to walk back to the house together, the video showed.
“You’re still not in trouble, but obviously I can’t trust you not to run anywhere, alright?” he continued.
“So come on,” the deputy calmly said as he reached out and took a hold of Furgason’s upper right arm. “I’m going to put you in handcuffs for now.”
“Okay,” Furgason replied, just before he pulled out a knife with his left hand and plunged it into Deputy Williams’ neck, the video showed.
“Unknown to the deputy, Furgason had a knife on him,” the HCSO confirmed. “Furgason pulled the knife out and stabbed Deputy Williams in the neck before fleeing the area and ignoring verbal commands to stop.”
The injured deputy drew his duty weapon and took off after the fleeing suspect, bodycam footage showed.
Furgason ignored his repeated commands to stop, so Deputy Williams ultimately deployed his Taser.
The suspect immediately fell forward onto the paved trail and complied with orders to toss the knife away.
Deputy Williams yelled for him to put his hands behind his back, but Furgason instead rose to a sitting position and brought his hands in front of him, the video showed.
The deputy deployed his Taser again, at which point the suspect finally complied with his orders to put his hands behind his back.
Furgason was taken into custody and transported to the hospital for evaluation, the HCSO said.
After being cleared by hospital personnel, he was booked into jail on charges of resisting an officer without violence, resisting an officer with violence, and attempted felony murder of a law enforcement officer.
Deputy Williams was transported to the hospital for treatment, and was released on Monday morning.
“This is a prime example of the dangers deputies face while trying to serve and protect our community every day,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in the department’s press release.
“Deputy Williams used an incredible amount of restraint after being stabbed in the neck by deploying less-lethal force on an individual who attempted to take his life,” Sheriff Chronister noted. “We are grateful that Deputy Williams was not more seriously injured and will make a full recovery, however, that does not make this incident any less severe.”
The sheriff said he plans to “see to it that this individual is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for his actions.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content: