A concealed carrier in Florida who stopped his car on a busy highway to help a Lee County Deputy under attack by an attempted cop-killer has been formally cleared in the November 14, 2016 shooting.
A Lehigh Acres man has been cleared in the citizen-involved shooting that killed the attacker of a Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputy along Interstate 75.
Ashad Russell, 35, acted lawfully in shooting and killing Edward Strother on the exit ramp of I-75 and Corkscrew Road in Estero on Nov. 14, according to the state attorney’s office. Russell was coming to the defense of Deputy First Class Dean Bardes.
“Our agency review is closed and no further action shall be taken by this office based upon the facts presented by this investigation and the applicable law,” said a Tuesday release from the state attorney’s office. “The citizen, Ashad Russell, has requested to remain out of the public eye. We would ask that you respect his privacy.”
Ashad Russell came to the assistance of Deputy First Class Dean Bardes after Strother twice tried to kill the law enforcement officer. Strother first tried to kill the deputy by trying to run him down as Bardes tried to work the scene of a minor accident, and then after a chase that exceeds speeds of 100+ miles-per-hour, Strother attacked Bardes and tried to take his gun.
Russell stopped and warned Strother to stop his attack, and when the attempted cop-killer did not, he moved to an angle that got Deputy Bardes out of the direct line of fire and shot Strother off the officer, firing three shots and making three hits without putting anyone else in danger.
Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott offered a heart-felt thank you to Russell after the shooting, praising him for his actions.
Earlier this week, two heroes met on I-75 and while they had never met before, one would save the others life. I was at the hospital when the ambulance arrived, the rear doors opened, and my Deputy Dean Bardes was unloaded on a stretcher. Bloody from a vicious attack by a driver Bardes had stopped for endangering the lives of other innocent citizens in our community, the Medics wheeled him into a treatment room. Joined by others from our team, I was there when his wife and family arrived with fear and concern for their loved one as the E.R. team worked on him. Ironically, this was the first day in a while that Deputy Bardes was alone on patrol because as a Field Training Officer, he typically has a recruit riding with him to learn the business. A business that has seen an increasingly alarming rise in attacks and killings perpetrated on cops. A business that has fallen victim to false narratives like Ferguson where the good guys have been painted as the bad guys by a vocal minority that refuses to allow facts and evidence to get in their way. A business that is the last line of defense between good and evil.
On behalf of the men and women of the LCSO, I thank Deputy Dean Bardes for his bravery and pray for a full recovery. I thank the E.R. staff and E.M.S. for their immediate attention to Dean, and I thank the many witnesses to this event who stopped to assist our Detectives. I thank my good friends at “Shoot Straight” who realized that the hero’s gun was taken as evidence and immediately gave him a brand new firearm. 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. We at your Sheriff’s Office remain proud to serve and focused on the mission.
The community (rightfully) rallied around Mr. Russell after the incident, with a local gun store almost immediately resupplying him with a new concealed carry handgun to replace the one that was taken into evidence.
The world needs more good people like Ashad Russell, who I hope has come to terms with this incident and is able to live with the fact he was forced to take a life the life of a violent criminal to save the life of an officer who was protecting his community.