MIAMI LAKES, Fla. - A retired Broward Sheriff's Office deputy nearly killed in the line of duty four years ago is talking about his decision to open fire on a man who was threatening his family.
The Saturday afternoon shooting occurred while retired Deputy Maury Hernandez sat outside a Haagen Daaz store on Northwest 67th Avenue with his mother, his fiancée, his two stepdaughters and his 3-month-old son, Maury Jr.
"I tried to deescalate his aggressive behavior, I tried my best," said Hernandez. "At that point, I was thinking of nothing else but to defend my family and my baby and just do what I had to do to keep them safe."
Witnesses said an aggressive beggar was harassing patrons in the shopping plaza. In fact, police had already been called before Hernandez asked the stranger to back off.
"And I continued to do that even after he continued punching me and pushing me," Hernandez said.
He said he only made the decision to pull his gun when his children became targets.
"The kids were right next to me, so when he turned around and approached us again, he was going right to the stroller," he said.
Hernandez is still recovering from his own brush with a bullet in 2007. He's still working to regain control of his left arm, a disability that likely hampered his ability to handle the situation with his hands. Hernandez said in November, just after Maury Jr. was born, that he hopes to be able rejoin the ranks as a sworn officer someday. But, he said that had nothing to do with his actions this weekend.
"I was eating ice cream with my family and I was protecting their safety and their well-being," he said.
The Miami-Dade Police Department is investigating the case and will turn the evidence over to the state attorney's office for review as standard procedure.
The suspect remains in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
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