911 calls from deputy-involved shooting released

Wanted man with gun killed in confrontation with St. Johns County deputies

Author: Adrienne Moore, Weekend anchor, reporter, amoore@wjxt.com
Elizabeth Berry, Evening assignment manager, beth@wjxt.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:47:55 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 12 2013 02:50:57 PM EST
Rodney Stevens
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -

The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office released the emergency calls from Wednesday's deputy-involved shooting.

Police were called to Rodney Stevens' mobile home on Katnack Road off US-1 by his daughter, Angie Kennerly.

The Sheriff's office said when family members tried to convince Stevens, who was wanted on multiple warrants, to turn himself in, he began to threaten them with a gun and said he would shoot any law enforcement officer that showed up.

"My dad has two warrants out for his arrest. He is walking around here with a gun saying he is going to shoot one of us if we call the law on him," Kennerly told the dispatcher Wednesday afternoon.

Kennerly told dispatchers she was hiding in her bedroom while her father could be heard in the background making threats and swearing.

"Someone needs to get here fast. He is carrying the gun around and I am very afraid of him," said Kennerly. "If he knows that I am talking to you, he will probably bust this door down and shoot me."

The emergency call continued for about 15 minutes while dispatchers worked to get police to the home. Near the end of the call, Kennerly recants that her dad may or may not have a gun.

"I truly don't know if he has a gun to be honest – I don't know if he ever came and got it – he said just said he was and I ran out. I am so scared to talk," said Kennerly.

After that, Kennerly told dispatchers she believed the guns were in the room where she was hiding, then her father, came rushing into the room.

"Please, please, please, somebody needs to get in here. He's throwing glass at me please, please," screamed Kennerly. "He's trying to get a gun. Please someone come, please. No you're not (she screams) No, you're not. No, you're not."

The call to emergency officials ended abruptly. Sometime after that, police said they arrived at the home and Steven’s ran inside and threatened to grab a gun. Police cornered Stevens in a room, where Kennerly said she saw her father shot in the neck. At that time, Kennerly said her father was not holding a weapon.

The Medical Examiner said Stevens died of a single gunshot to the head.

"He did go in the room and grab a gun, but the gun was not in his hand when they entered the room. The gun was on the bed. Why they came in the way they did, I have no idea," said Kennerly.

Police said it is unclear how many shots were fired at Stevens. Investigators are still trying to determine the conversation between Stevens and deputies that lead to the gunfire.

The deputy involved in the shooting, 29-year-old Thomas Coward, was placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure for the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. Coward has been with the Sheriff's Office since 2004.

Detectives said the found a loaded shotgun on the bed where Stevens was as the encounter occurred with the deputy.

The Sheriff's Office will be doing its own investigation into the deputy-involved shooting. It usually calls the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to handle those investigations, but not anymore.

This is the second shooting the Sheriff's Office has not called FDLE since the Michelle O'Connell investigation. When asked if the tension between the two agencies was a factor in the policy changes, Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan said, "We simply did not request FDLE's assistance."

Mulligan said the Sheriff's Office's homicide unit will work with the state attorney's office and the Medical Examiner, and believes this procedure will result in investigations being completed sooner. Mulligan said the Sheriff's Office will still work with FDLE in other cases.