BB officer returns to regular duty after shooting

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Bradenton Beach Police Officer Eric Hill returns to patrol Jan. 26 following a desk assignment after being involved in a December 2017 officer-involved shooting in Anna Maria. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
The lineup in the hallway at the Bradenton Beach police station is Officer Eric Hill, left, Chief Sam Specialeand Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz.

Bradenton Beach Police Officer Eric Hill is back on the beat after state investigators met with local law enforcement about a Dec. 30, 2017, shooting in Anna Maria.

BBPD Police Chief Sam Speciale supported Hill’s return to regular duties the fourth week in January following desk duty that was assigned after the incident, saying a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office video recorded from the sheriff’s helicopter and reviewed at a Jan. 17 meeting with investigators shows no wrongdoing on Hill’s part.

Authorities say Hill shot Douglas Schofield, 45, of Palmetto, in the midsection, after Schofield threatened Hill and other law enforcement officers with a U.S. Marine-issued knife and a survivalist hatchet, allegedly saying “Which one of you wants to die tonight,” and then moved aggressively in Hill’s direction.

Speciale said Hill used common sense and training to protect others after Schofield’s aggressive moves toward him with the weapons.

“It’s going to be great to have him back and I’m proud to have an officer like him on duty,” Speciale said.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement opened an investigation after the officer-involved shooting and met Jan. 17 with representatives from BBPD, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and the 12th Circuit State Attorney’s Office, according to Speciale.

Law enforcement had been alerted by Schofield’s relatives he intended to kill himself on Anna Maria Island.

Hill, Manatee County Sheriff’s deputies Amy Leach and Tim Eason, Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer and Christine LaBranche were first at the scene — the parking lot at The Studio, 10101 Gulf Drive, on the northwest corner of Pine Avenue and Gulf — and found Schofield inside a vehicle at about 7:25 p.m.

They ordered Schofield to exit the vehicle.

Simultaneous to Hill shooting Schofield with a gun, Leach tazed the man, Speciale said.

Leach went on administrative leave for a couple of days after the incident, according to MCSO Sgt. Mike Jones, who heads the Anna Maria substation.

FDLE spokesman Jeremy Burns said the state investigation remains active, with the possibility of more interviews and no timetable for completion.

Speciale expects FDLE’s final report by March.

The state attorney’s office is reviewing aggravated assault charges against Schofield.

After the shooting, EMS transported Schofield to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton.

Schofield reportedly underwent surgery for the gunshot wound and is now recovering.

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