Melbourne, FL – The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) has released dashcam footage that captured the moment when two deputies were ambushed during a traffic stop on Aug. 30 (video below).
The horrific attack occurred just west of the Interstate 95 overpass on U.S. 192 at approximately 1 p.m. on Aug. 30, after deputies stopped a vehicle with three adult occupants inside, Florida Today reported.
Dashcam footage showed the deputies as they casually spoke with two people who had gotten out of the suspect vehicle.
Deputy Potters then spotted a two-month-old baby and a dog in the backseat of the car next to a male passenger later identified as 38-year-old Paris Wilder, WKMG reported.
Deputy Potters asked Wilder to step out of the car and told him he would keep an eye on the infant and the dog so Wilder could speak with Deputy Thoman, the video showed.
“I’ll make sure they’re alright,” he told the suspect. “I got babies too, man.”
A moment later, Wilder threw the back passenger door open and charged out of the vehicle with a rifle pointed at Deputy Potters, the video showed.
The deputy immediately ran towards a patrol SUV as Wilder jumped out and fired multiple rounds at him.
Deputy Potters then began yelling that he’d been hit.
The deputies returned fire, appearing to hit the gunman at one point, as they tried to take cover behind the patrol SUV, the video showed.
Wilder circled around the SUV during the mayhem and swooped in behind Deputy Potters, who had been shot in the leg, and began hitting him in the head with the butt of his rifle.
“As the suspect repeatedly batters deputy Potters in the head with the butt of the gun, the two of them fall to the ground,” Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said, according to WFLA. “The subject continues to strike him in the head.”
Deputy Thoman was able to fire multiple rounds at the attacker, saving his wounded partner and “eliminating the threat,” Sheriff Ivey said.
Wilder, a career criminal with several warrants out for his arrest, was pronounced dead at the scene, Florida Today reported.
Deputy Potters, an 18-month veteran of the department, was transported to the hospital with a gunshot wound to his leg, according to WKMG.
He also suffered a concussion, facial fractures, and several head lacerations, WFLA reported.
He is expected to make a full recovery.
The other two individuals who were involved in the traffic stop cooperated with investigators and no other injuries were reported.
Sheriff Ivey said Deputy Thoman’s actions saved Deputy Potters’ life, WKMG reported.
“As you can clearly see in the video, both of our deputies were in a battle for their lives as this disgusting and evil individual had a blatant disregard for their lives, the lives of others at the scene, and the life of a 2-month-old baby in the car,” Sheriff Ivey said, according to WFLA “When I tell you we are blessed that God was watching over our deputies and those present at the scene, I mean it from the bottom of my heart.”
The sheriff noted that Wilder had more than 23 felony arrests on his record, including offenses of attempted murder, assault, and narcotics trafficking.
He was also out on bond at the time of the broad-daylight attack, Florida Today reported.
“I’m personally sickened that by the fact that this thug with such a violent criminal history was out of jail where he could almost kill two of our deputies,” he told WFLA.
Sheriff Ivey described Wilder as an “extremely violent thug who ambushed and attempted to kill” two deputies.
He said the suspect was “a perfect example of what is wrong with our criminal justice system,” Florida Today reported.
“This career criminal was actually out on bond and on our streets, where he could attempt to kill our deputies and put others’ lives at risk,” Sheriff Ivey railed. “He should have been locked up safely behind bars a long time ago, where he couldn’t victimize another citizen or innocent bystander.”
According to Brevard County court records, Wilder actually had 21 misdemeanor arrests and 24 felony arrests dating back to 2002, Florida Today reported.
Six charges were dismissed, and another 17 – including attempted first-degree murder, battery on a law enforcement officer, and aggravated assault with a weapon – were dropped.
He was convicted of 12 charges in Brevard County alone, to include failing to register as a career offender, possession of a firearm by a felon, and cannabis possession.
Wilder also had additional cases pending at the time of the ambush attack.
“Why is a thug with this kind of criminal history even given a bond where he can be out on our streets to harm someone else?” Sheriff Ivey asked in the video briefing. “I promise you that when we release the dash camera footage from this deputy-involved shooting, you’re going to be outraged that this disgusting and vile individual was out on our streets, and you’re also going to be extremely proud of your Brevard County sheriff’s deputies for how they responded to this extremely violent encounter.”
Were it not for their heroic and swift actions, the situation could have ended “with us attending the funerals of two deputies” while a “useless thug” remained on the loose “to kill someone else,” Sheriff Ivey said.
“I could not be more proud of our deputies,” he reiterated. “As I’ve said several times before, if you point a gun at one of my deputies, you just guaranteed yourself a trip to one of three locations: the hospital, the morgue, or if you’re really lucky, the hospital and jail.”
Sheriff Ivey said he is surrounded by an “amazing team” at the BCSO, and commended them for going out every day to protect the citizens and the community they serve.
Both deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave while the officer-involved shooting is being investigated, as per protocol.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content and Obscene Language: