ST. LUCIE COUNTY — A deputy who non-fatally shot a man that investigators said appeared to be “experiencing a critical mental health episode” was suspended after it was determined she drew her firearm rather than her Taser, according to records released Monday and an official.
Deputy Cortney Hoyt received a 6-day unpaid suspension and will get remedial training following the Sept. 6 incident in which she saw a 30-year-old man standing on the outside guardrail of the North Causeway Bridge.
A written statement issued Monday by Sheriff Ken Mascara marked the first time it was disclosed that Hoyt mistakenly drew her firearm, rather than her Taser electric shocking device.
The man was arrested after the incident, which appeared to escalate quickly and involved a struggle and a number of law enforcement officers.
The man made “bizarre statements,” eventually dropped off from the bridge and ran to the other side, according to officials and records.
Hoyt saw a silver object in his hand that she thought was a weapon, and told dispatchers it appeared he put away the weapon, according to an Oct. 11-dated letter from Assistant State Attorney David Dodd released by the sheriff’s office.
Meanwhile, Deputy Jorge Mendez arrived and drew his gun, telling the man to get to the ground but he didn’t do so.
Mendez switched to his Taser, and the man ran away. Mendez used his Taser, which incapacitated the man. For about 30 seconds the man struggled with investigators as they tried to handcuff him. He got back on his feet twice and removed the Taser probes.
He ran and Hoyt drew her gun and fired once, striking the man in the upper leg. The man kept running and