9 Investigates 2 Brevard Co. deputies cleared after shooting

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INDIALANTIC, Fla. —

The state attorney's office has cleared two Brevard County deputies following a deadly shooting in Indialantic despite questions over use of force and if the attempted removal of the suspect was in keeping with the Brevard County Sheriff's Office's policy on barricaded suspects.

On Jan. 13, 2013, Brevard County Cpl. James Haman and Deputy Diomedis Canela fired 13 shots, striking 49-year-old Christopher Greer nine times, killing him. Greer had refused to come out of a house, and according to a 63-page report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Greer charged at the deputies with a knife.

"Anytime we have a critical incident, you always have your thoughts that go out to the family" said Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey in an interview with Eyewitness News.

The incident took place late in the evening when police were called to 700 N. Shannon Ave. in reference to an armed suspect. Greer was holed up in his parent's former home. According to a report by FDLE, obtained by Eyewitness News, Greer had attacked his brother's wife, grabbing her by the throat and pulling a knife before retreating back into the house.

Indialantic Police Officer Scott Holstine was the first officer to arrive on the scene. Holstine attempted to speak to Greer only to have Greer slam the door in his face; that's when Holstine called for backup.

Melbourne Beach officers arrived first and set up a perimeter. Haman arrived next and used his vehicle's PA system to try and convince Greer to leave the residence; Greer did not respond. The officers on the scene discussed whether or not there were other weapons in the house or if there could be another person in the house with Greer. On this topic, FDLE received conflicting stories.

Indialantic Police Officer Scott Holstine told a FDLE investigator that "Christopher Greer was the only person in the residence and that both of his (Greer's) parents had passed away recently." He also indicated that there was no indication that there was anyone else in the residence at the time.

The statement by Holstine to the FDLE was questioned twice by state investigators when Brevard Cpl. James Haman swore under oath that he was told by Holstine that there was an "elderly man who lived upstairs." Based on the belief that another person was in the house, according to FDLE, Haman made the decision to retrieve a ballistic patrol shield and attempt to make contact with Greer.

The Brevard County Sheriff's Office policy and procedures guidelines specifically state that deputies are to "make every reasonable attempt to contain the person" and "no aggressive action or attempts at a confrontation is taken unless there is an immediate threat of danger to agency personnel or citizens."

Haman and Deputy Diomedis Canela first approached the front door of the home, but could not get past a locked hurricane door. The deputies, according to the FDLE report, then entered the garage and approached the door leading to the home. The deputies tried to open the door, but were stopped by Greer who pushed back against the door. After several moments, the deputies were able to kick in the door and begin to make entry. As the deputies moved into the home, Canela yelled out "knife" and stepped back. The deputies say Greer was coming at them with a knife raised, that's when they fired their weapons, killing Greer.

"When those things are taking place at the fast pace they take place, decisions are being made at a split second interval" said Sheriff Ivey, "I've read the report and looked at all the different variables of it and when our team showed up they had a true and genuine concern for the safety of the people there."

The sheriff says the department has conducted its own investigation into the shooting and found no policy violations.

A subsequent search of the home uncovered a hatchet but no guns.