Fla. deputies injured after suspect lunges for gun in courtroom

By SARAH PROHASKA Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Copyright 2006 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.

FORT PIERCE- A man accused of murdering an auto-shop owner two years ago became unruly and violent during an unrelated court hearing Monday, struggling with two courthouse deputies and reportedly trying to grab one deputy's gun.

The altercation left one deputy with a broken finger and the other with scratches and bruises on his hand. Now, Alwin Tumblin, 27, who is awaiting trial on the 2004 first-degree murder charge, faces new felony charges including battery on a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct, resisting an officer with violence, resisting an officer without violence and battery by expelled fluids for spitting on the deputies.

Tumblin appeared before magistrate Oliver Mackenzie-Smith at about 10:45 a.m. Monday for a dependency hearing in family court at the courthouse annex on Seventh Street in Fort Pierce. Deputies ushered him into the courtroom, and he was wearing handcuffs, leg shackles and a chain connecting the two, according to the report.

Tumblin became "loud, disruptive and disrespectful" to Mackenzie-Smith, who ordered him out of the courtroom. He refused to move, and deputies Travis Cox and Ronald Messina each took one of Tumblin's arms and attempted to guide him out, the report states.

Tumblin still refused to comply, officials said.

"The scuffle started in the courtroom, and they literally pushed him out the door into a secure hallway," said Sgt. Don Spivey.

Tumblin continued to violently resist the two deputies, and all three fell to the floor. Tumblin kicked Cox in the face, and managed to wrap his handcuffs and belly chain around Cox's wrist. Cox freed himself, and Tumblin "grabbed Messina's sidearm and it appeared that he was trying to get it out of the holster," according to the report.

"Messina was unaware of this due to the position he was in, but when Cox saw it, he used forced to break the defendant's grip on the gun, and then Cox held the gun in the holster," the report states.

Eventually, Tumblin stopped fighting but was still "very vocal." After he was taken to a holding cell, he began to resist two other deputies, and "intentionally spit on Messina and Cox," according to the report.

"He was forcibly brought back under control and transported back to the jail," the report states.

No trial date has been set for Tumblin on the charge he fatally shot auto-shop owner Jimmy Johns in May 2004.

- sarah_prohaska@pbpost.com 

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