Convicted felon grabs a gun and tries to attack a deputy during traffic stop
A convicted felon pulled a gun on a deputy during a traffic stop for a stop sign violation Aug. 15, and deputies believe he may have been trying to commit "suicide by cop," according to a Flagler County Sheriff's Office news release.
A Flagler County deputy, Deputy Smith, stopped a black Ford sedan at the intersection of North Church Street and East Howe Street in Bunnell, and the driver — later identified as Alphonso Brooks, 39, a resident of Palatka — seemed "unusually nervous," according to the news release.
Valor checked the outside of the sedan for drugs, and indicated that they might be in the car.
Duenas told Brooks that the dog had alerted to the odor of narcotics coming from the car.
"Narcotics? There are no drugs here," Brooks replied, as shown in body camera video of the traffic stop.
Duenas asked Brooks if the car was his — he replied that yes, it was his work vehicle — and then asked him if there might be anyone else who used narcotics who'd used the car. Brooks said no.
"I don't even smoke weed," he said.
"Well, just so you know, it gives us probable cause to search the interior, so we're going to do that," Duenas said. "So I'm going to ask that you step out, and I'm going to make sure that you don't have any weapons on you, I'm just going to pat you down." Brooks hesitated, then lit a cigarette and opened the door.
"You're good, you can go ahead and step out. And you can keep your smoke, man," Duenas said to Brooks.
"I'm scared, man," Brooks said.
"Sir, go ahead and step out of the car," Duenas said.
As Brooks stepped out, Deputy Smith and Officer Hirshi saw him reach into the driver’s seat and grab a gun and try to hide it from view. As Brooks stood up, the gun was in his right hand.
Deputy Smith began to yell “Gun! Gun! Gun!" and drew his firearm.
There was a scuffle, and Duenas, according to Smith's account in a charging affidavit, "in what appeared to be an instinctive manner grabbed ahold of Mr. Brooks' right arm, drew his agency-issued Glock 22C and placed it in Mr. Brooks' ribcage, and pushed Mr. Brooks, pinning him into the corner door jamb of the driver's door."
Brooks' gun fell to the ground as officers yelled, "Put the gun down now!"
"Where is it?" Duenas said.
"Right there on the ground," Brooks said.
"Put the gun down!"
"It's down on the ground right there," Brooks said.
"Listen to me, I will f---ing kill you!" Duenas said.
"I know you will, look — It's down there," Brooks said.
"Gun is secured," another officer said.
"Are you insane?" Duenas said. "Somebody come over here right now."
Smith secured Brooks, who is now charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon and carrying a concealed firearm. Brooks has been booked at the county jail on $50,000 bond.
“This encounter could have quickly become a deputy involved shooting caused by the suspect’s actions,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in the news release. “Deputies Duenas and Smith along with Bunnell Officer Hirshi showed great restraint and are safe because of their training and teamwork. This could have had a very different outcome with the death of Brooks or a deputy of officer.”
View the body camera video of the incident — which does contain profanity — here.
Deputies did not find drugs in the car.
"When the K9 alerts on the vehicle for narcotics, it also means that there could have been drugs recently inside the vehicle," a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said in an email. "Had Mr. Brooks not had a firearm on his person, the search of the car would have been completed and he would have been free to go with only a citation for running the stop sign."
Brooks served three stints in state prison and had previously been convicted in 1999 of lewd or lascivious assault on a child under 16 and in 2002 of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.