Friends of an unarmed Florida man shot and killed by police early Wednesday morning during a SWAT raid, are calling the incident “murder.”
Police say the shooting happened while Volusia County deputies were serving a search warrant for drugs at a home on Maybrook Drive in Deltona when 26-year-old Derek Cruice, ‘advanced’ on a member of the SWAT team who was entering the residence.
“The search warrant was a narcotics search warrant. It’s been an ongoing narcotic investigation,” Sheriff Ben Johnson said.
At 6:32 a.m., Deputy Todd Raible, 36, opened fire one time, shooting Cruice in the face while he was inside the doorway of the home, police say.
He was pronounced dead a short time later at an Orange City hospital.
Friends of Cruice, who witnessed the shooting, told local reporters he was unarmed and did not make any aggressive moves toward the officers, and called police claims a lie.
“Murder,” one witness said when asked what transpired.
In the interview, the men describe a chaotic scene in which officers effectually just broke down the door with a battering ram and opened fire.
“I was there. I watched the whole thing,” one of the witnesses said. “There was no advancement, there was no reaching for anything. The guy was wearing basketball shorts. Its kind of hard to conceal anything when [basketball shorts] is all you have on.”
“They opened the door and fired on him. That’s all there is to it… They entered the house and fired immediately. [Officers] came in with a certain intent and purpose and they met their goal.”
The witnesses affirm that neither drugs nor weapons of any kind were found in the house. Checking with court records, it doesn’t appear that any drug charges were filed in the case.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has launched an investigation into the incident.
Watch the witness interview: