A Florida deputy “jokingly” pulled the trigger on his gun twice before fatally shooting his roommate and best friend — a fellow cop — in the head after the pair played “Call of Duty,” according to an affidavit.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey called Saturday’s deadly shooting “an extremely dumb and totally avoidable accident” in a video announcing the arrest of Deputy Andrew Lawson.
Lawson, 23, made his initial court appearance Monday to face a charge of manslaughter in the death of Austin Walsh.
Walsh, also 23, died at the scene early Saturday in the apartment he shared with Lawson in Palm Beach.
An affidavit obtained by the station ClickOrlando stated that Lawson and Walsh had taken a break from playing the popular shooting game “Call of Duty” and were chatting when Lawson grabbed a Glock 34 9mm semiautomatic pistol.
Lawson said he believed that the gun was unloaded when he “jokingly” first pointed it at Walsh and pulled the trigger. The weapon did not fire.
Lawson then manipulated the gun by pulling the slide back and pulled the trigger again, claiming he also was joking, according to the sheriff’s office
This time, the Glock fired a single shot that struck Walsh in the head, killing him.
Lawson called 911 shortly before 1 a.m., telling a dispatcher that he had just shot his best friend.
Officers who responded to the scene found Lawson waiting outside his home and detained him. Walsh was discovered dead in the hallway outside a bedroom.
Lawson said “he still believed the firearm was unloaded but should have known the magazine containing ammunition was possibly in the firearm by the weight of the gun,” the affidavit stated.
Sheriff Ivey said Lawson was “distraught” and “devastated” when first responders arrived, and he fully cooperated with the investigation.
“Folks, this unnecessary and totally avoidable incident not only took the life of an amazing young man and deputy, but it has also forever changed the life of another good young man who made an extremely poor and reckless decision,” Ivey said.
The sheriff said Walsh had been with the agency since he was 18.
“Austin was such a great kid, and our hearts are broken over his loss. He will be deeply missed by our agency, our community and our prayers are with his family,” Ivey said.
In court Monday, Lawson’s bond was set at $15,000. He is required to move in with his mother and have no firearms or ammunition in his possession.
Lawson could face up to 15 in prison if convicted of manslaughter. He is due back in court for an arraignment Jan. 5, 2023.