Officers used every strategy available to arrest an armed Florida man caught eating the face of a victim in a triple-stabbing that left an unsuspecting couple dead.

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19 year-old Austin Kelly Harrouff

Repeated shocks from a stun gun, a K-9 police dog, and the pure strength of several officers were used to pry 19 year-old Austin Kelly Harrouff, who is White, from the body of Joseph Stevens III, 59.

Noticeably missing from the list of tactics was the use of police firearms, which are too often the first line of defense against African American suspects accused of victimless crimes much less serious.

“I’ll save you the question,” Martin County, Fla. Sheriff William Snyder told reporters during a press conference, “The angles were extremely dangerous and had there been a gunshot it could have hit the victim.”

Snyder said the incident began when Harrouff stormed out of Duffy’s restaurant where he was dining with family. The teen left the establishment in a Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” hat and began walking in the direction of his father’s house a couple of miles away. Within the hour police were called. Harrouff had resurfaced one street away from the home and was seen attacking Stevens and his wife.

When Jeff Fisher, 47, realized his neighbors were under attack he rushed over to Harrouff, who told him “You don’t want any of this,” before knifing the Good Samaritan.

Snyder said Harrouff was “exhibiting abnormal levels of strength” and that “nothing was working” for officers who “were using all the force that they were able to muster physically.”

Americans around the country are sounding off on the take-down, which some say would have ended differently if the suspect had been caught red-handed in Black skin:

  • “Cops didn’t care if the bullet would hit the victim when they shot that autistic man’s care giver last month in Florida for no reason,” said Kimberly Jeffreys, of Newport News, Va., who took to Facebook about the incident. “But that’s just because they didn’t have the complexion for protection like this boy has.”
  • “He’s still alive?” quipped Gina Wallace of Atlanta. “People can’t be so naive as to deny the discrepancies.”
  • Steven Brown, from Palm Beach, Fla. asked the department how it was possible for deputies to “let him keep chewing face” after they saw their measures weren’t working. “If he was Black you would have shot him,” he tweeted.

Others took issue with the images associated with Harrouff, who Snyder called a “good kid,” after mentioning his body-building pastime and membership in the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity.

  • “I love how they only show wonderful, playful pics of this murderer,” said Shea Moore. “Where’s his mug shot, prison pic? His true face of evil!”

Harrouff remains sedated in a Florida hospital in critical condition. Despite the need for multiple levels of force to arrest Harrouff, suspected to be high on hallucinogenic drugs, South Florida NBC affiliate WPTV reports that he will be charged with “resisting an officer without violence.”

Charges related to the murder of Stevens and his wife, Michelle Karen Mishcon, 53, and the attempted murder of their neighbor Jeff Stevens, are expected after Harrouff is cleared medically.

The case comes four years after Rudy Eugene, a Black man, was found naked and eating the face of a homeless man in Miami. The victim survived, but Eugene was shot dead on the scene.

 

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer