HCSO deputy's fatal shooting of 88-year-old retired Tampa officer was justified, state attorney says

The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office has concluded the fatal shooting of an 88-year-old man by an HCSO deputy was justified.

Prosecutors said Monday that the fatal shooting of Ronald Ehrich last December by a Hillsborough County deputy was justified because the deputy "reasonably believed she was in fear of imminent death or great bodily harm" when she fired her weapon. The deputy also had no duty to retreat, the State Attorney's Office said in a statement.

"Accordingly, there is no legal basis for criminal charges against the deputy," said the statement.

The deputy's name was withheld in the State Attorney's Office statement but she had previously been identified as Deputy Anastacia Castillo. Video released by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office last December showed the deputy repeatedly trying to de-escalate the situation.

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She went to the home in Riverview after a neighbor asked for a well-being check on Ehrich, a retired Tampa police officer. The neighbor was concerned because she had not seen Ehrich for at least two days and had noticed his garage door was open.

In the video, the deputy repeatedly identified herself as she made her way through the home, saying "sheriff’s office" as she knocked on walls and doors. Once upstairs, she opened doors to bedrooms until Ehrich finally answered from behind a closed door.

She explained that she was just there to check on him. Then she apparently saw he was armed and took cover as she called for backup. The deputy’s body camera footage showed her retreating down a hallway after he opened the bedroom door with the handgun.

She backed into a bedroom, continuing to plead with Elrich to put the gun down.

"As she was asking him to drop the weapon, she said, 'Please don't make me do this,'" Sheriff Chad Chronister said back in December.

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She fired after he moved within a few steps of her. Ehrich received emergency medical treatment at the scene and died at a hospital. An autopsy determined he died from gunshot wounds to the head and chest, the statement said.

"If you examine what happened…what could she have done different? He continued his aggressive action towards her," Chronister had said. "She’s making every effort to deescalate this situation." 

The investigation was conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.