Hatchet Standoff Outside of Publix

May 19, 2022 Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

42-year-old John Rawls has been arrested and tased by police after an altercation in Leon County.

Leon County Sheriff’s Department was called to a Publix for a theft accusation. Around 12:35 pm on May 15th, police arrived to the scene at the grocery store in the 5300 block of Capital Circle Southwest.

Once the deputies were able to speak to the vendor from Publix, they were informed that the suspect was accused of stealing, and then took out a weapon. The suspect allegedly raised a hatchet at both the vendor and a second witness nearby.

The suspect had left the store, but police were able to spot him matching the description. The suspect was still in the Publix parking lot. When authorities approached the man, there was a momentary standoff that ended up gaining traction on the internet for the video surfacing on social media.

Video Circulation on Social Media

The brief video posted on Facebook highlights a tense scene between police and the suspect. Three officers are surrounding the suspect, all with their firearms drawn and pointing at the crouching suspect.

From right outside of the grocery store one of the officers kept repeating to Rawls, “We’re here to help you.”

The suspect gets up and starts to walk away, despite police ordering him to stay where he was. The suspect dropped an object, but continued to try and walk away from the awaiting officers. Rawls then crouches down, shouting “get away” twice at the police.

The suspect started to rise, but one of the officers closed in and fired two shots from a taser. Rawls tried to make a run for it before falling to the ground. After he hit the ground, the officers were able to close in and handcuff Rawls.

Although Rawls eventually complied with the police to drop the hatchet, he was not complying with their order to move away from the weapon.

Rawls has now been arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault, carrying a concealed weapon, and resisting arrest.

“After a brief struggle, the suspect was taken into custody and transported to a local hospital for precautionary measures. More charges will be forthcoming,” said the LCSO.

What Constitutes as a Weapon in Florida?

Under Florida Statute Section 790.001(3), a concealed weapon is defined as any device, metallic knuckles, slingshot, billie, tear gas gun, ax, or any other deadly weapon carried on or about a person in a way to conceal the weapon from the ordinary sight of another individual.

For the prosecution to prove that a defendant had a concealed weapon, the following needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The alleged defendant knowingly carried a firearm or weapon on or about his or her person; and
  • The firearm or weapon was concealed from the plain sight of another individual.

There are two ranges of charges that can come with carrying a concealed weapon. The first is a third-degree felony, if the alleged offender had a concealed firearm on or about his or her person. The second is a first-degree misdemeanor if the alleged offender carried a concealed weapon or electric weapon on or about his person.

To read more about carrying a concealed weapon in Florida, you can find our blog here. To find out more about weapons charges or possible defenses to weapons charges, you can find our blog post here

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Getting accused of a crime is extremely stressful, especially if you feel like you are going it alone. Lucky for you, you don’t have to go it alone. Don Pumphrey and his legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients all across the state of Florida for various crimes. They understand the importance of strategizing a strong defense and are prepared to stand in your corner and fight for your freedom. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today for a free consultation regarding your case.

Written by Karissa Key

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