In mid-November, a harrowing series of events, sparked by a high-speed police chase, unfolded on a Florida interstate.
In the end, suspect Edward Strother, who had rushed from his car to attack Deputy First Class Dean Bardes, was shot and killed by a civilian with a lawfully-owned firearm.
Since then, questions have remained about whether or not the shooter, who has now been identified as 35-year-old Ashad Russell, would ultimately face charges for rescuing the deputy — questions that, as NBC2 reports, have now been answered.
Russell, who witnessed Strother leap on top of Deputy Bardes at the culmination of the high-speed chase and begin beating him in the face and upper body, reportedly emerged from his car as Strother was attempting to gain control of the officer's firearm.
With the officer pleading for help, Russell “repeatedly yelled at Strother to get off Bardes and said he would shoot if he did not comply.” When Strother continued his attack, Russell fired, killing the man.
On Tuesday, Chief Assistant State Attorney Amira Fox announced that her office had concluded their investigation in to the shooting, calling Russell a “Good Samaritan” and a “hero.”
“You're actually immune from prosecution under these facts.”
Nonetheless, the state's decision likely won't come as welcome news to all of those involved.
As Louis Strother, the brother of the man who attacked Deputy Bardes, said following the shooting:
“They are calling him a Good Samaritan? Was my brother armed?”
Still, the state attorney hasn't been the only one to acknowledge what Russell accomplished that day.
Just days after the incident, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott released a statement praising the man's actions:
Above all, I thank the hero that recognized the imminent threat, rushed to Deputy Bardes’ aid, and ultimately stopped that threat.
In a day and age where race is a near instant focus for media and other pundits in police incidents, the fact is that this hero happens to be a man of color who stopped another man of color from further harming or killing a white cop; thereby reminding us that black lives matter, blue lives matter, and indeed all life matters.
While Russell's attorney has said that his client does not consider himself a hero, but “simply a member of the Southwest Florida community,” it seems clear that the “Good Samaritan” has not taken the consequences of that day lightly.
In a released statement, his attorney noted that “Mr. Russell and his family will continue to pray for everyone involved, especially the gentleman that passed away, and all those who witnessed the incident that day.”