WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The Polk County Sheriff's Office and the State Attorney's Office are investigating after a man was shot and killed by deputies Wednesday morning.
No deputies were hurt.
According to the sheriff's office, a 911 call came in around 6:50 a.m. reporting that a woman had been stabbed by her son. The preliminary investigation claims 36-year-old Phillip Dibenedetto walked into his mother's home and asked her for coffee before stabbing her in the chest. Deputies say he later told them he was attempting to stab her in the neck.
Once deputies arrived at the family's horse ranch on Overlook Dr. the mother said her son ran to his apartment, on the same property, and deputies went looking for him. When they found him, Sheriff Grady Judd said the man kept screaming at deputies and making statements about wanting to end his life.
Deputies attempted to talk with Dibenedetto for 20 minutes in an attempt to "end the matter peacefully," but Dibenedetto said he had a gun, was prepared to die and "had been planning for this," according to a release. He also reportedly asked deputies to kill him at least 50 times while pointing to his chest.
The sheriff's office said at some point during de-escalation, Dibenedetto walked deeper into the apartment to where the gun was located. In an effort to stop him, Judd said deputies used a Taser on the man, who then got back up and fired at least one shot narrowly missing a deputy. The sheriff said deputies then shot the man multiple times.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Judd said three deputies were involved in the shooting.
"This is an unfortunate reminder of just how dangerous this job is, especially when responding to domestic violence calls and calls related to mental illness. Our deputies did everything they could to deescalate the situation and bring it to a peaceful end, but they were put into a position where they had to protect each other," Judd said.
The sheriff's office said Dibenedetto suffered from mental health issues for about 20 years.
Four independent investigations will be conducted: a death investigation by the PCSO Homicide Unit, an administrative inquiry by the Administrative investigations team, a State Attorney's Office investigation and a determination of the cause of death by the Medical Examiner's Office.
All deputies are on paid administrative leave during the initial phase of the investigation, as is protocol.
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