Ashad Russell, who came upon a man attacking a Florida sheriff’s deputy on the highway and killed the attacker, has been cleared of all criminal charges by the State Attorney’s Office. Russell saved the life of Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy First Class Dean Bardes in November 2017. Bardes was being attacked on Interstate 75 by Edward Strother, who the police officer had pulled over for speeding. Strother pinned Bardes down and was punching him when Russell came to the rescue.
Russell, who has a concealed weapons license and was armed at the time, approached the scene and told Strother to get off of Bardes. The police officer instructed Russell to shoot Strother, which he did, three times in the neck, killing him.
Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott took to Facebook at the time to address Russell’s bravery during the incident, writing: “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…”
He continued: “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 State Attorney’s Office reviewed the case, with the Daily Mail reporting that Russell was “justified in using deadly force when he reasonably believed that the use of such force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to Deputy Dean Bardes or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony upon Deputy Bardes.”
The Attorney’s Office further noted: “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.”