DESTIN — An Okaloosa County deputy has been cleared of any wrongdoing after firing his weapon at Christian Pickett, a suspect of a shooting that injured two outside of the Bric a Brac nightclub.
State Attorney Bill Eddins announced Tuesday that a review of the officer-related shooting determined the shots to be a justifiable use of deadly force, according to a press release.
According to an investigative report provided by the State Attorney's Office, on March 10 at around 4 a.m., Rex Thompson, an Okaloosa County deputy with the rank of corporal, heard what he believed were gunshots as he was passing Gulf Shores Drive, in the Bric a Brac area.
Body camera footage shows that Thompson radioed dispatch, stating multiple people were down. While moving toward Highway 98, Thompson told dispatch that he had "one with a gun" and a "black man with a gun heading toward West Marine." Thompson pursued the suspect, identified as Pickett, who hid behind a car at Herbert's Specialty Meats, the report said.
Pickett then made himself visible to Thompson, who was cited yelling "drop the gun" four times. Pickett allegedly was seen turning towards Thompson and moving his hand toward his waist with a "dark object" in his hand, the report said.
Thompson then fired two rounds, and Pickett ran toward Highway 98. Two additional shots were then fired behind Thompson by the Bric a Brac security guard. Thompson continued to chase Pickett.
After continuing to run, Pickett was taken into custody by deputies in front of the McDonald's on Hwy 98. Pickett was not hit by Thompson's gunshots. Asked several times by deputies for the gun, Pickett denied having one, the report said.
"All you had to do was drop the gun," Thompson said to Pickett.
"What, I picked up — somebody shot my homeboy, I picked up his gun and chased him," Pickett said in response to Thompson.
Later in the afternoon, the gun was found in the bushes near where Pickett was taken into custody. In a later investigation, Pickett admitted to having a firearm at the time, the report said.
As of March 11, Pickett, of Shield Drive in Crestview, had not yet been charged with shooting Trevor Thomas, 29, of Crestview and Raheem Phillips, 24, of DeFuniak Springs. He is listed in reports as a suspect, though.
Thompson was placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting while an investigation was conducted.
Bric a Brac, a Latin and hip hip entertainment nightclub, had been the location of around 40 calls made to the Sheriff's Office since July 22, 2017. This incident was the second shooting in a month during early morning in the Bric a Brac area.