Woman stabs off-duty deputy, sets ex-boyfriend's house on fire
Deputies said Brittany Bonin intended to kill her ex-boyfriend, burn down his house and then crash her car in an effort to commit suicide
By Tony Holt
DAYTONA, Florida — Cliff Williams was stabbed, called a racial epithet and forced to wrestle a knife-wielding woman in his front yard while a fire was ravaging the house across the street.
The Marine veteran and retired Volusia County deputy was already on a call with sheriff's dispatch when he said that a woman punctured his lower back with a blade in his Florida Shores neighborhood in Edgewater.
There were sounds of buttons on a phone beeping in rapid succession and then a bleeding Williams wound up pinning the suspect to the ground.
"Expedite those units, central," Williams said after he was able to regain control of his phone. "She stabbed me with a knife!"
On the chilling 9-1-1 recording released Sunday by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, a woman could be heard calling Williams names, taunting the man whose house she burned down and wishing death upon an 18-month-old child.
Her words were cold and unemotional.
Shortly before 4:20 p.m. Saturday, Edgewater police responded to the scene on Pine Tree Drive and arrested Brittany Bonin on charges of aggravated battery against a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, first-degree arson, tampering with a witness and battery.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood said Sunday he had listened to only a portion of the 9-1-1 recording. He was offended by what he had heard.
"As a law enforcement professional and as a human being, I don't know. I don't think appalled is a strong enough word to describe it," said Chitwood, who was focused mainly on the suspect's racial slur that was aimed at Williams. "It was absolutely reprehensible. She was bent on destruction. She was bent on murder. And then the color of a man's skin comes into play? I don't get it."
Deputies said Bonin showed up on Pine Tree that afternoon intending to kill her ex-boyfriend Michael DeMalia, burn down his house and then crash her car in an effort to commit suicide.
DeMalia, who could be heard losing his composure during the fourth minute of the 9-1-1 call.
"My (expletive deleted) house is on fire!" he screamed.
"Go (expletive deleted) put it out!" the suspect could be heard telling him in a mocking tone.
"With (expletive deleted) water. With (expletive deleted) water!"
Seconds later, DeMalia grabbed Williams' phone and yelled at the 9-1-1 operator, "Hey, tell (them) to hurry up. My house is burning down!"
Williams, who is black, was employed with the Sheriff's Office for 25 years until he retired as a captain in 2014. He remains a reserve deputy in charge of the Police Athletic League in Deltona, Chitwood said.
Earlier during the call, the woman Williams had forced to the ground started yelling insults.
"She actually came to my house," Williams told the operator.
The racial slur followed.
"Because you're a douche bag (expletive deleted)," the suspect can be heard saying on the 9-1-1 call.
"(She) stabbed me, tried jumping on this guy," Williams said, referring to DeMalia, who was trying to help Williams keep the suspect on the ground.
Later during the same call the operator started getting angrier with Williams, who was being forced to multi-task while bleeding from knife wounds.
"Where were you stabbed, sir?" the operator asked Williams.
"In the back, central," he said. "Hurry up. It's not fatal. Please expedite."
The operator asked where the knife was and got no answer because Williams and the suspect started talking to one another.
"I'm not fighting you, you (expletive deleted) stupid douche bag," the suspect said.
Williams asked once more for emergency units to be expedited. Then he turned his attention again to the woman on the ground.
"You're the stupid one," he said.
"You're punching a little white girl," she said.
The operator started sounding angry that Williams, who had identified himself with his assigned deputy number, wasn't paying attention to the questions she was asking.
The suspect soon turned her attention to DeMalia.
"I hope your daughter dies, do you know that?" she said.
DeMalia's daughter was not at his house when Bonin set it on fire.
"You're going to be in jail for a long time," Williams told the suspect.
"No I won't," she answered.
"Yeah, you will," the lawman responded.
The suspect again told DeMalia that she hoped his daughter would die. She continued with the taunts and profanities.
"Why are you not answering my questions?" the operator could be heard yelling at Williams.
Chitwood said he respects the job that emergency operators do, but promised there would be a "complete and thorough investigation" into everything that took place that afternoon.
"When you're in the thick of the fray, you don't have time to answer a gazillion questions," Chitwood said.
Toward the end of the recorded call, the suspect is urging DeMalia to do something about his house, which by then was filled with black smoke. She told him Williams didn't need his help keeping her on the ground.
"A (expletive deleted) sheriff is holding me down," she tells him.
"Yeah, he's (expletive deleted) stabbed," an emotional DeMalia tells her.
By then, Edgewater police arrived.
"Hey, I need a pair of handcuffs on her," Williams told police officers. Bonin was arrested by Edgewater police and remained held without bail Sunday night at the Volusia County Branch Jail.
The suspect kept chiding DeMalia while the fire burned mostly everything he owned.
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