Two deputies on leave after
fatal shooting of elderly man
[Palm Bay, FL]

(PALM BAY, Fla.) -- Deputies were forced to shoot and kill a bedridden man who refused to be taken to a psychiatric hospital.

Ulrich D. Cochran, 80, was shot and killed on Dec. 15 after he threatened to kill two deputies who were escorting an ambulance from a mental health hospital. "He exhibited a pattern of mental instability," Sheriff Phil Williams said. "He was headed for Circles of Care (psychiatric treatment facility) because the family was afraid for their lives."

Cochran had been staying on the sofa of an unnamed caregiver, Williams told Florida Today. The sheriff said that Cochran's health had been deteriorating and may have suffered a few strokes.

Cochran had threatened to kill the caregiver if she tried to take him to a nursing, the newspaper reported.

"She had been a virtual prisoner in her own home," Williams told the newspaper. "He said, 'I know how to make a murder look like a suicide.'"

About 5:15 p.m. last Friday, Sheriff's Sgt. Vic DeSantis and Deputy Joe Petrosky arrived at 1670 Baker Street about 5:15 p.m. with the ambulance. The officers had been told that Cochran could be armed and was making threats.

Cochran pulled a .38-caliber pistol on the officers and refused repeated demands for him to drop the weapon.

"They were clearly in danger," Williams told the newspaper. "(Cochran) pointed the gun at the head of one of the deputies."

Petrosky and DeSantis are on administrative leave and have been given the opportunity to talking with a staff psychologist with the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff's Chief Bob Sarver told the paper.

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