FDLE: Walton deputy justified in fatal shooting (with REPORT)
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Deputy Christopher Lehman shot and killed Steven Kriese during a standoff in November
February 4, 2009 – 4:53 PM
POINT WASHINGTON – An investigation into the fatal shooting of a Walton County man by a sheriff's deputy last year concludes that the shooting was justified.
Deputy Christopher Lehman shot and killed 41-year-old Steven Kriese on Nov. 5 during a standoff at Kriese's home in Point Washington.
Kriese's wife, Melissa Kriese, told investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that she believed her husband wanted to die "and most likely forced the police to shoot him … (He) knew that when he came out of the house carrying a rifle, the police would have to stop him," according to the final FDLE report, which was released Tuesday.
The investigation included interviews with witnesses, including Kriese's wife, 12-year-old daughter and father-in-law, as well as neighbors and deputies who were at the scene at 423 W. Point Washington Road.
That night, Steven Kriese began drinking beer and wine after he and his father-in-law, who was visiting from North Carolina, got into an argument about the presidential election.
Melissa Kriese told investigators that "things further escalated when she got into an argument with her husband about him drinking while on his medication" to treat pain and the depression he had suffered over the last 10 years.
Kriese – who had a handgun stuck in the waistband of his pants – took the keys to his truck and drove away from the house.
Melissa Kriese then called the Walton County Sheriff's Office for help.
Shortly after deputies arrived at the home, Kriese returned and stepped out of his truck with the gun pointed under his chin.
The deputies tried unsuccessfully to convince him to drop it.
According to one law-enforcement officer, Kriese got out of the truck and said, "No. My wife and I got into a fight, and I'm going to die tonight," the report states. He also said that "he was not going to hurt anyone but himself."
Kriese then went into the house. His wife and daughter left through the back door.
Shortly afterward, he returned to the front porch with an AK-47 handcuffed to his wrist.
"As Kriese exited his house, he raised the rifle towards Deputy Lehman. Deputy Lehman … fired two shots, fatally wounding Kriese," the report says.
An autopsy determined that he had been shot in the chest and upper left shoulder.
After he was disarmed, deputies began CPR until EMS arrived and pronounced him dead on the scene.
Lehman was placed on administrative leaving pending the results of the investigation. He has since returned to duty.
Assistant state attorney Greg Marcille said through a spokesperson that the case is closed and no further action will be taken.