BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - A Broward sheriff's deputy who shot a man while off-duty was drinking beer before his patrol shift, according to a witness who claimed to be partying with the deputy prior to the shooting.
Lori Babb, 46, said she was drinking beer with her longtime friend, BSO Deputy Kevin McClernon, at her Hollywood apartment when her boyfriend, Michael Hinsch, came home and surprised them both.
Babb said Hinsch asked McClernon what he was doing there and the deputy went for his gun belt, which he'd taken off and was lying near her television.
"When I saw [McClernon] go for the gun I grabbed my dog and I ran to my neighbor's house because I got scared," said Babb. "As soon as I ran out I heard the [gunshot]."
Babb said Hinsch was unarmed and she didn't believe the shooting was justified.
"You can't just shoot somebody in their house," Babb said. "For what? He didn't strike him. Maybe he was verbal, like, ‘What are you doing in my house?' but he didn't fight him or anything."
Babb said a Hollywood police detective questioned her following the shooting and asked her if Hinsch had pulled a knife on the deputy.
"I didn't see that," she said.
Hinsch, who was left bleeding profusely on the apartment floor, was rushed to Memorial Regional, which hasn't released any information on his condition. Babb said that Hinsch told her on the phone that the bullet narrowly missed his femoral artery and that he can't move his foot. She said Hinsch told her that he asked the deputy about his Glock and then "he took it out and shot me."
"It happened so fast," said Babb, who didn't see the actual shooting. "It was crazy. I ran back, and I saw Mike in a puddle of blood and I ran away. I didn't need to see that."
Fellow deputies voiced shock that McClernon, who is married with children, was involved in the shooting. Hired by BSO in 2002, McClernon was named BSO's "Training Deputy of the Year" in 2006 and is also a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Regardless of whether the shooting is deemed justified or not, one focus of the BSO internal investigation is whether or not McClernon should have been associating with Babb at all.
Babb has a long arrest history that includes several felony charges involving drugs, tampering with evidence and even battery on a law enforcement officer. She said her only felony conviction was for the latter charge and adjudication was withheld. BSO forbids association with convicted felons.
Hinsch, whom Babb said didn't know McClernon, also has a long criminal history involving drugs, grand theft, one battery on a law enforcement charge, several stints in prison and nine alcoholic open carry citations.
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