During the early morning hours of June 25, 2010, Deputy Sheriffs Mike Braswell and Paul Fairbanks were patrolling their area of responsibility in west Lakeland when they noticed a young man riding a bicycle down the road; they would not have been suspicious, however, the young man was riding late at night in the dark in a high-crime area. What happened next would change the lives of all three men, and is the basis for Mike Braswell's nomination for this prestigious award.
The following is an excerpt from the award submission to America's Most Wanted (AMW) nominating Deputy Sheriff Braswell for their national All Star Award:
The deputies' suspicions grew when the individual quickly crossed the street and later jumped off his bike upon realizing that they were law enforcement officers.
"It was the look on his face when we pulled him over...the wad of cash that fell from his pocket...I've seen it 100 times and every time its drug related," said Deputy Braswell.
After pulling him over to ask if everything was alright, Braswell and his partner attempted to build a rapport with the young man. Shortly after the suspect agreed to allow the deputies to search him, he gave them his ID and headed toward the patrol car for his pat down. Braswell was following behind him when out of nowhere the suspect turned and fired several shots at Deputy Paul Fairbanks.
Mike Braswell watched his partner stumble backwards and fall to the ground; he had been shot. "He was only five to seven feet away...I fired my weapon from my hip and then I felt myself getting hit twice in the vest, once in the hand, and then again in the leg as I fell to the ground," recollected Braswell. According to Braswell, he, the suspect, and his partner were all lying wounded on the ground and his partner was fighting for his life.
The suspect, later identified as convicted felon Matthew Tutt, had dropped his weapon. "I told him not to move and that nobody had to die that night...but he continued to move for his gun and I was forced to shoot him," said Braswell. According to his supervisor, Mike Braswell refused to die; he had a wife and two sons at home. His supervisor shares his amazement at how Braswell remained so composed through the incident, that he managed to comfort his partner and radio the information to the department in spite of being shot. His instincts and his will to survive saved his and his partner's lives that night. Doctors told him that he was nearly fatally wounded and that the bullet in his leg was only one centimeter away from taking his life; however Mike Braswell was back to work in six weeks.
America's Most Wanted has hundreds of nominations from all over the country for this prestigious award. The "All Star" is chosen from the applicant with the most votes. We encourage you to go online and vote for Deputy Sheriff Mike Braswell -- click this link to vote now: