Report: Gunman taunted Brevard deputy before attack
Brandon Bradley taunted Brevard County Sheriff’s Deputy Barbara Pill and refused to obey her commands just minutes before he shot her multiple times, once in the head, according to information included in more than a thousand pages released Wednesday, as reported by Local 6 news partner Florida Today.
In interviews with police, Bradley admitted shooting the deputy and said he thought Pill was pulling out her gun as she tried to get him out of a sport utility vehicle during a traffic stop in Melbourne. Florida Today also reports the records also show Bradley then admits that Pill never removed her gun from its holster.
Among the documents released Wednesday was a 119-page report written by lead investigator Brevard County Sheriff’s Agent Don Reynolds and a hand-written letter from another suspect, Andria Kerchner, seemingly written to Pill’s family. In the 21-part report from Reynolds, he outlines the investigation of Pill’s death that unfolded in the days and months after the incident.
Pill was shot March 6 while conducting a traffic stop on a vehicle matching the description of one connected to a robbery at a Melbourne area motel. The alleged driver and shooter, Bradley, 22, and his passenger and companion, Kerchner, 20, were arrested on charges of murder following the shooting and are being held in jail.
Pill got out of her patrol vehicle and gave commands to the driver telling him, “Sir, get out of the car,” with her hand resting on her holstered weapon.
The driver, Bradley, slightly opened then shut the door when Pill tried to move forward. Witnesses told police the driver stuck his arm or foot out.
Dashboard camera video, which is summarized in the report but has not been released, captures Bradley responding to Pill, asking if she was going to shoot him, saying something to the effect of, “Are you going to shoot me for nothing?” At one point in the interaction, the SUV moves forward slightly, and Pill approaches the open door.
“Deputy Pill pulled the driver’s door open, reached into the vehicle with her left hand. At which point the male responded with, ‘Are you?’” the report reads.
Police say Bradley then grabbed a gun and shot Pill, a 52-year-old grandmother with a 30-year career in law enforcement. She suffered five gunshot wounds in the head, back of her neck, chest, back and left upper arm, according to autopsy reports. Witnesses reported hearing between four and eight shots.
After his arrest, Bradley told police he “saw her pulling her gun out and perceived she was going to shot [sic] him. Mr. Bradley specifically advised as the female opened the vehicle door he said he saw her pull out her gun, so he shot her,” the report reads. He later acknowledges that Pill had not drawn her weapon.
As the traffic stop unfolded, Bradley’s companion and passenger, later identified by police as Kerchner, was on the phone. The man on the other end of the line, who was interviewed by police in April, said he overheard a man saying “That (expletive) saw my face and she got my tag number. I got to kill this (expletive).” The female reportedly responded back with, “No baby, no baby, you don’t have to do that.”
The man overheard on the phone responded: “You don’t understand, I’m not going to prison. I’m not going to prison.” The witness who took the call ignored the chatter until he heard “bang, bang.”
Pill was among the officers investigating a report that the two suspects stole items — worth about $670 — from Econo Lodge at 4455 W. New Haven Avenue. The suspects’ SUV swiped a bystander who was trying to stop them and crashed into a column as the SUV fled the motel, according to multiple witnesses.
Next, witnesses reported seeing a white SUV straddling both lanes while driving north on Turtle Mound Road, forcing oncoming traffic out of the way. The vehicle crashed on its side into a ditch on Parkway Drive and police arrested the two occupants.
Kerchner made statements that police call spontaneous utterances during her arrest, according to the report, initially claiming to not know Bradley and asking if she could apologize to the family.
One officer’s in-car video recording system apparently records Kerchner saying, “Why would you even shoot a cop? What were you (expletive) thinking? Why do you have to shoot a cop?” According to the report, Kerchner also calls Pill “rude” and claims she suffers post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing the deputy get shot.
The agent’s report depicts Bradley as a man repeatedly involved in criminal activity such as dealing drugs in exchange for weapons, and says he recorded a rap song with violent themes early the day of the shooting.
In a witness interview on March 9, a woman told police she’d known Bradley for about a year during which “he made statements regarding his life over others.” The witness remembered one incident when she was driving by law enforcement while Bradley was in her car.
“She indicated Brandon began to ‘freak out’ and made statements to the effect, ‘If I ever get pulled over, they will have to hold court in the streets, because, I will go out like a soldier.’”
Other investigative documents released Wednesday include a hand-written letter from Kerchner, presumably to Pill’s family.
She apologizes for the family’s loss, acknowledging they must have loved her with all their heart and soul, and adds: “I had nothing at all to do w/ this, I’m traumatized. ... I’m still crying.”
Kerchner says she loves the family, offers a phone number and condolences: “I am very sorry 4 your loss let me know if you need anything. feel free to call me anytime.”
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