Fatal deputy-involved shooting ruled justifiable

Deputy killed 64-year-old in home in December


ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The state attorney's office has ruled the fatal shooting of a 64-year-old man by a St. Johns County deputy in December was justifiable.

Deputy Thomas Coward shot and killed Rodney Stevens in a mobile home on Dec. 11.

Deputies said they were called to the home in the 300 block of Katnack Road off U.S. 1, north of St. Augustine, about 12:30 p.m. when residents reported they were being threatened by a man with a gun.

Deputies said Stevens had three outstanding warrants on charges of grand theft auto, felony battery and witness tampering.

Booking photo of Rodney Stevens from 2007 arrest in St. Johns County.
Booking photo of Rodney Stevens from 2007 arrest in St. Johns County.

Authorities said when family members tried to convince Stevens to turn himself in, he began to threaten them with a gun and said he would shoot any law enforcement officer that showed up.

When deputies arrived, Stevens came out of the home and ran back in, threatening to arm himself with a gun after he spotted the deputies, investigators said.

The deputies went into the home and confronted Stevens in a rear bedroom when a shot was fired. Stevens died at the scene.

No deputies or anyone else in the home was injured.

Stevens had a long history of arrests, including multiple times for domestic battery, drugs and DUI. (Photo of Stevens from 2007 arrest.)