State Attorney Rules August 2022 Police Shooting Was Justified
Lake Wales Officers Fired in Self-Defense After Police K-9 Killed by Suspect
Last updated 6/7/2023 at 8:05am
In a long-delayed ruling, the State Attorney's office has announced that their investigation into a exchange of gunfire between police and a suspect last August determined that police use of deadly force was justified.
Earnest Borders, 57, of Lake Wales, was killed. A police department K-9, Max, also died in the gunfire.
A letter signed by Assistant State Attorney Mark Thomas Levine states that "it is my opinion that Officer Jared Joyner and Officer Esaul Hernandez were justified in their use of deadly force."
Body camera footage was also released which appears to show Borders shooting the K-9 before beginning to turn his stolen Smith and Wesson 9mm semi-automatic toward the officers, who immediately opened fire in return. The gun was retrieved containing six live rounds.
Video also shows the officers performing CPR on Borders, who was declared deceased at Lake Wales Hospital shortly afterwards.
An autopsy performed on Borders after his death revealed the presence of "Cocaine, Eutylone, Pentylone, and N,N-dimethypentalone." The weapon Borders used was reported stolen from Babson Park a year prior to the shooting.
Police had responded to two 911 emergency calls of a shooter adjacent to the Grove Manor Apartments, including one from a woman he had been dating, who reported that he had dragged her from a car and beaten her head upon concrete before firing his weapon several times. One apartment in the area was damaged by gunfire.
The body camera video can be viewed at this link.
The ruling, coming almost 10 months after the incident, had been repeatedly sought by former Lake Wales City Commissioner Terrye Howell. Howell had brought the subject up at each recent commission meeting, asking for closure for the family and an end to the rumors created by the lack of information.
"Other places, when there's a shooting, they release that video by the next day," Howell had complained. The statement offered no explanation of the length of the investigation.