A cell phone video shows a Montgomery County deputy ordering a 29-year-old man to drop a container filled with a liquid and get on the ground before the deputy shot him Sunday evening at a local park.
Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck identified the deputy involved as 19-year veteran Jennifer Smiley and said she shot Cory Driscoll, who had appeared to be drinking gasoline and pouring it on himself. Driscoll also shouted about “the blood of Jesus” during the encounter.
Streck said his office hadn’t had any previous contact with the man and through the investigation has found he does have a history of mental health problems.
A 9-1-1 caller told dispatch that she believed the man may have taken drugs because of how strangely he was acting. The caller also says she believes the man may have had a lighter.
Streck said Driscoll rapidly approached Smiley after ignoring 36 commands. Streck declined to say whether Driscoll was armed and said a criminal investigation has been launched and will review the actions of both the deputy and Driscoll, which is protocol for shooting incidents.
The video shown to media Wednesday was taken by a bystander at Possum Creek MetroPark.
It begins with Smiley approaching Driscoll, who is entering the parking lot after spending time in a wooded area at the park. Driscoll loudly repeats an incoherent phrase towards the deputy, who had her service weapon drawn on the man.
The deputy urged Driscoll to drop a container he was holding and get on the ground.
The man didn’t comply and instead continued to repeat the incoherent phrase. He dropped and then picked up the container again, drank and poured what was believed to be gasoline on himself from the container, asked why he needs to get on the ground, shouted “The blood of Jesus” multiple times and then asked the deputy to shoot him as he began toward her.
The deputy fired her weapon, and a round hit him is in the abdomen. She then alerted dispatch that shots had been fired before the video ended.
Streck said the use of a Taser wasn’t possible because of the gasoline.
“When gasoline is believed to be poured on someone, a Taser would not be used at that point,” he said.
“Taser and gasoline would not go well together,” Streck said.
Smiley was placed on paid administrative leave, per policy, and will continue to be until the criminal investigation is finished and presented to the grand jury, Streck said.
He said the office is happy that Driscoll wasn’t killed but said the incident highlights the importance of following commands of law enforcement.
“We’re glad Mr. Driscoll is in the hospital recovering, and once again we will move forward and make sure this incident is investigated to the fullest and that we are transparent to the public,” he said.
The sheriff said over her career, Smiley doesn’t have any blemishes on her record and was awarded deputy of the month twice.
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