PORT ST. JOHN, Fla. -- Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey expressed extreme disappointment Thursday after a court ruling this week dismissed charges against a man who fired at deputies in 2015 and claimed it was legal under Florida’s stand-your-ground law.
- Florida appeals court dismisses case against shooter
- Brevard deputy seriously injured in 2015 shooting
- John Derossett sought immunity from prosecution
Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach on Wednesday issued an opinion and order ending prosecution of 69-year-old John Derossett on charges of attempted premeditated first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer while discharging a firearm.
The confrontation happened at Derossett’s house on Covina Street in Port St. John on August 15, 2015, as deputies with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office attempted to arrest his niece, Mary Ellis, in connection with alleged prostitution at the house they shared.
“Undercover agents contacted her at the front door and a struggle ensued while attempting the arrest,” the court filing said.
Derossett heard the disturbance from his bedroom and went to the front door with a firearm.
Derossett said he didn’t know the men struggling with her were officers. He fired a shot from the front porch.
“Deputies returned fire, with numerous shots being exchanged,” the court filing said. “Deputy Casey Smith was seriously wounded, but ultimately recovered after a lengthy hospitalization and rehabilitation period.”
Both Derossett and Ellis suffered less serious gunshot wounds.
In court, Derossett sought immunity from prosecution under Florida’s stand-your-ground law.
A lower court ruled that Derossett wasn’t entitled to immunity because he knew about the alleged prostitution. But an appeals court disagreed, saying Derossett’s knowledge alone did not support the criminal activity.
It overturned the lower court ruling. The criminal case was dismissed.
Prosecutors were disappointed in the ruling but said they respected the decision, Todd Brown, a spokesman for the Seminole-Brevard State Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
“Our law enforcement officers risk their lives daily to protect our community,” Brown said. “This ruling adds to that risk by extending protection to those who turn a blind eye to criminal activity, even within their own home.”