Grand jury exonerates deputy in shooting case


Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 11:37 p.m.
A Hamilton County grand jury determined Tuesday that the fatal shooting of a man by a deputy in December was justified. The grand jury also commended the deputy for his restraint during the incident.
According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators, the shooting happened Dec. 11 inside the bathroom of a Jennings motel room where Antonio Javar Whetstone, 27, was using Lavita Daniels and her 14-month-old child as human shields.
Deputy Bobby Boatwright had been dispatched to the motel after a 911 operator got a call about a possible disturbance in one of the motel's rooms. Boatwright found Whetstone and Daniels arguing in a bathroom. When Whetstone saw the deputy, he put Daniels into a chokehold and used her and the child clinging to her as a barrier between himself and Boatwright.
According to witnesses, Boatwright had pulled his gun and ordered Whetstone to release the toddler and Daniels. Whetstone reached between the front of his body and the back of the Daniels' body as if reaching for a gun. Witnesses told investigators that Boatwright holstered his gun and pulled out his Taser. After Whetstone was hit with the Taser, he pulled out a gun and fired at the deputy over Daniels' shoulder.
In response, witnesses said Boatwright simultaneously pulled Daniels' and the child outside of the bathroom and fired at Whetstone, fatally shooting him. Daniels and her child were not injured. Sheriff Harrell Reid said an audiotape of the incident confirmed that Boatwright ordered Whetstone to release Daniels and the child at least 50 times.
In a report released at midday on Tuesday, the Hamilton County grand jury concluded that "Boatwright was legally justified in shooting Antonio Javar Whetstone." The grand jury also wrote that because of the gravity of the decision Boatwright faced, the panel "Commends Deputy Bobby Boatwright for the restraint he exercised before resorting to the use of deadly force."
Reid said Boatwright, who has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting, will return to work today.
The weapon Whetstone used in the incident was stolen, investigators said. Whetstone was out on bond on charges of possession and sale of cocaine, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm with an altered serial number.
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or voylesk@gvillesun.com

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