Incident remains under investigation
For the second time in 10 days, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office deputies were involved in the shooting death of a suspect, the agency reported on Aug. 28. This time, the officers were responding to a woman’s 911 call saying that a man in her household had pointed a gun at her and had threatened to shoot her, as indicated in a recording of the call.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation into the officers’ shooting, which residents reported to have occurred in the Lake Sarasota area of the county, east of Interstate 75.
At 9:06 a.m. on Sunday, the woman called 911 from a bedroom in the house. She said that she and the man had argued the previous day. Additionally, she told the 911 dispatcher that the man’s mother “threatened to hit me three times, and I said if she’s gonna hit me again, I’m going to hit her.”
The victim’s name was blanked out in the recording provided to the news media on Aug. 29.
The victim explained to the dispatcher that she heard arguing in the living room when she woke up that morning, so she stepped out of the bedroom. When she looked around a corner, she continued, the man pointed the gun at her.
She identified the man as Brian Lee Underwood, saying he was blocking her exit from the house.
When the deputies arrived, a Sheriff’s office news release said, they “attempted to contact the suspect and asked him to come out of the house, but he would not comply. Deputies eventually made contact via phone and convinced the suspect to go to the window and show his hands. The suspect then invited deputies into the home to retrieve the victim,” the release continued. The woman had remained in the bedroom as she talked with a 911 dispatcher, the call recording indicated.
Four deputies entered the residence through the front door, “which was left ajar after the suspect’s mother fled the residence during the incident,” the news release said.
The suspect, who had his hands up, confronted the officers, the release added. Deputies gave him “verbal commands to de-escalate the situation,” the release pointed out, but “the suspect retrieved a firearm from behind his back” and then “chambered a round in the weapon” and pointed it at deputies.
“At least two of the four deputies fired their weapons, killing the suspect,” the release said.
Underwood, 47, had one prior arrest — for Domestic Battery — in 2014 in Citrus County, the release noted. “Deputies have responded to calls involving Underwood in the past for other reported family disturbances,” the release added. However, none of those incidents resulted in an arrest, the release said.
“The four involved deputies are considered victims of Aggravated Assault with a Firearm, and as such, their identities are being withheld,” the release explained. “The female victim in this case is identified as a victim of Aggravated Domestic Assault with a Firearm and has opted into Marsy’s Law. For that reason, her identity and home address are being held confidential,” the release added.
Nextdoor posts that The Sarasota News Leader read reported that the incident occurred on a street that intersects with Mauna Loa Boulevard, east of Interstate 75 in Sarasota. One person wrote that the “whole yard of the house is taped off,” and that numerous law enforcement officers were on the scene during the day.
The investigation is ongoing, the release said.
Further details of the 911 call
During her call to 911, the victim reported, “I’m a disabled person,” adding that she has severe scoliosis and had been battling cancer.
After the woman repeated several times that the man was blocking her exit from the house, the dispatcher asked whether the woman could climb out of a window in the bedroom, or whether she could reach an alternate exit from the residence. The woman replied that she physically was unable to go out through the window. The dispatcher advised the woman to lock herself in the bedroom until officers arrived.
Deputies responded to the scene within approximately 5 minutes, the Sheriff’s Office news release said.
“He’s walking around in the house,” the woman told the dispatcher while the officers were en route. Later, she can be heard yelling at the man, “You can’t point a gun at somebody!”
“I just woke up, literally just woke up,” before the man threatened her, the woman told the dispatcher.
At another point during the call, the woman sounded as though she were screaming at the suspect. “I just woke up!” she yelled twice.
“Stop talking to him. Try not to talk to him,” the dispatcher advised her.
The woman then said she should have called 911 the previous day. Because of her disability, the woman pointed out, “I can’t even fight him off.”
Later, the woman told the dispatcher, “He thinks that he’s going to get away with it.” She began crying.
Finally, she announced, “The cops are here.”
The call lasted about 14 minutes.
The 2014 Citrus County case
According to records maintained by the Citrus County Clerk of Court, in June 2014, Underwood, who was listed as unemployed, was arrested in Inverness after throwing a cell phone at the victim in that case, “striking the victim and causing bleeding and injury to her ear,” the Probable Cause Affidavit said.
The officer who wrote the narrative explained that he responded to a residence just after 1 p.m. on June 6, 2014, “in reference to a possible domestic disturbance.” While he was en route to the scene, the affidavit noted, Dispatch advised him that the caller, who wished to remain anonymous, had reported that “a male and a female were in a verbal confrontation that was also possibly physical.”
When he arrived at the address, the affidavit continued, the officer found the victim, Jammie Basaillon, on the front porch of the residence. She “was yelling” into the house at another person, though she turned to speak with the deputy, the report noted.
In response to the officer’s questions, Basaillon said that “her nosy neighbors must have called because she and her husband were arguing,” the affidavit added. When the officer asked if the altercation had become physical, Basaillon replied at first that it had not. “The victim then stated that during the argument she threw some items inside the residence and broke a coffee pot in the kitchen, but that no one got physical,” the report continued.
While he was speaking with her, the officer noted in the affidavit, he “observed her left ear lobe to be bleeding from a piercing and asked her why she was bleeding. Once the victim realized that I had seen her injury,” the affidavit pointed out, “she changed her story.”
She then told the deputy that she threw the cell phone “across the residence,” and that her husband picked it up “and threw it at her, striking her in the left ear. The victim stated that the telephone hit her hard enough to cause her earring to tear skin and bleed.”
Then, the affidavit said, Basaillon told the officer that the man she had identified as her husband was actually her long-time boyfriend; they were not legally married. She identified him as Brian Lee Underwood, adding that they had been together for 23 years and that they have an adult child — Brian David Underwood — who was living with them, the affidavit continued.
Brian David Underwood told the deputy that his parents had engaged in an argument because his father had struck their dog because it had tried to bite him. Brian David Underwood went to his room “to avoid the confrontation,” he added, as noted in the affidavit. “He stated that he could hear items being thrown around the residence; however, he did not observe anything occur between the victim and the defendant.”
When the officer tried to speak with Brian Lee Underwood, the defendant, the affidavit added, the defendant “was verbally combative,” telling the deputy, “F*** you. I’m not talking to the police.”
Then, when the officer asked for identification, the affidavit said, the defendant told the officer that unless the officer arrested him, the officer should “get the f*** out of [his] house.”
The deputy proceeded to arrest Underwood, the affidavit added.
Court records show that the case was closed in October 2014, after the State Attorney’s Office filed a form saying that Underwood had “successfully completed pretrial intervention.”