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Leon County Grand Jury finds deadly officer-involved shooting on Aenon Road was justified

Posted at 4:21 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 16:27:28-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Leon County Grand Jury has issued a no true bill presentment clearing two deputies of wrongdoing in a deadly officer-involved shooting on Aenon Road.

The State Attorney's Office announced the Leon County Grand Jury's decision Thursday afternoon.

The grand jury concluded that the two Leon County deputies involved in the shooting were justified in their use of deadly force against 38-year-old James Edward Baker.

LCSO was called to a home in the 2000 block of Aenon Road around 7:40 p.m. on Oct. 2 about a possible hostage situation.

When three deputies arrived at the nearby Valero gas station, they spoke with the complainant who said an armed man broke into his home, had demanded his wallet and was holding someone hostage at gunpoint.

The presentment said that two of the deputies then left the gas station and eventually found the suspect, Baker, holding a gun to a victim's head. When Baker was spotted by deputies, the presentment said Baker pointed a handgun at them.

After ignoring commands to put the gun down and yelling at deputies to back up, Baker started shooting at them.

In total, the presentment said the officers returned six shots of their own, several hitting Baker. He was taken to the hospital where he later died.

In the presentment, the Grand Jury concluded that the shooting was justified, saying the deputies involved "acted heroically."

"Their returning fire is the only action that could have stopped Baker from killing," the presentment read. "In the confusion of an armed kidnapping and assault, they walked blindly towards the danger to rescue [the victim]. Once at close range, they were nearly killed when they chose to appropriately illuminate the scene and rescue her. They put their lives in danger to protect a fellow citizen, and we thank them for it."

The Grand Jury also concluded that the outcome was "in fact desired by James Baker as the sad conclusion of another life lost to addiction," noting that a "toxic level" of methamphetamine was found in his system at the time of the shooting.

They wrote that Baker had a "chronic drug problem," had been recently released into probation and thought law enforcement was looking for him.

"In the days prior to this suicide by cop, Baker told his family members that he would not be going back to jail by any means," the presentment read. He even wrote a note to his family in anticipation of his demise. To anyone who doubts the lethality of methamphetamine both to the user and to the public, we would suggest this as a clear example."