At approximately 2:30 am, Friday, June 25, 2010, Polk County Sheriff’s deputies 58-year-old Paul Fairbanks and 32-year-old Michael Braswell were proactively patrolling in the area of Plateau Avenue and Josephine Street in the Wabash area of unincorporated Polk County near Lakeland.
The deputies encountered a white male subject, later identified as 21-year-old Matthew Lewis Tutt (no known address), riding a bicycle without lights on along Plateau Avenue. Numerous vehicle burglaries had been reported in the area. Originally, the suspect was cooperative with deputies providing his name and his ID. As he removed his identification, money fell from his pocket. Deputy Braswell told the suspect it was alright for him to pick up what he had dropped. Deputy Braswell then asked Tutt if he had any weapons or drugs; Tutt denied having any weapons or drugs. Deputy Braswell then asked Tutt if he would allow them to search him, and Tutt said he didn’t mind and walked toward the deputies’ unmarked car (Ford Taurus).
It was at this time that Tutt removed a .45 caliber semi-automatic underneath his clothes and began firing at the deputies. Tutt fired seven shots, hitting Deputy Fairbanks three times and Deputy Braswell four times. Deputy Braswell returned fire and the suspect died at the scene.
“It was a bad night, but it was a good night,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “These brave deputies are alive today because of their training, their ballistic vests, quick action, and the exceptional trauma work performed by Lakeland Regional Medical Center staff.”
Deputy Braswell was struck four times –one bullet entered his right upper thigh and exited his left lower hip, he was shot once in the right hand. He is listed in stable condition. Deputy Braswell was originally hired as a detention deputy in July, 1998. He left in 2003 but returned to the PCSO as a deputy in 2005. He is married and has two children. He is assigned to the Northwest District.
Deputy Fairbanks was shot three times – one bullet entered his left abdomen and exited the right side of his abdomen, he was shot once in the left elbow, and once in the left wrist. He is listed in critical but stable condition following surgery. Deputy Fairbanks is married and has four adult children-three sons and a daughter. He was hired November 1996. He too is assigned to the Northwest District.
Tutt’s criminal arrest history includes 9 arrests, and 2 convictions – 1 felony conviction and 1 misdemeanor conviction. A partial list of arrests appears below (not all details of his arrests are immediately available):
Date Arrested Charges Disposition
4/22/08 VOP/Felony Battery Guilty/Sentenced to Prison
11/28/06 Traffic Violation Juvenile Detention
11/28/06 Robbery Nolle Processed
7/17/06 Traffic Violation/Arrest Guilty
FTA Treated as Adult
12/09/05 Fraud/Felony Juvenile Detention
This is an ongoing investigation. It is the standard PCSO policy for mandated, independent investigations to be conducted. The PCSO Administrative Investigations Section is currently conducting an internal administrative review. The PCSO Bureau of Criminal Investigations is conducting the death investigation. The Polk County Medical Examiner will conduct the autopsy. The State Attorney’s Office for the 10th Judicial Circuit responded to the crime scene and is conducting its own review. The SAO will also review investigative reports and findings of the Sheriff’s Office and Medical Examiner’s Office. It will report its findings related to the shooting.