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Hillsborough deputy shoots, kills man charging him with knife, Sheriff says

Posted at 7:37 PM, Aug 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-01 23:17:27-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says a man is dead after charging at a deputy with a large kitchen knife held over his head.

Sheriff Chad Chronister says deputies were called to the home on Misty River Court in Tampa just after 6 p.m. on Thursday for a suicidal subject.

Chronister says a family member of 48-year-old Lenny Blaine Griffin called 911, saying he was suicidal and had ingested a bottle of pills. When deputies arrived, Chronister says Griffin's girlfriend opened the door.

The deputy went into the home and turned a corner, finding Griffin holding a large kitchen knife over his head. Griffin charged at the deputy, who retreated while instructing him to drop the knife, according to Chronister.

The deputy continued to retreat out of the home and into the front yard of a neighbors home, where Chronister says he shot Griffin in self-protection. The sheriff's office estimates the deputy retreated more than 150 feet before shooting.

Griffin was taken to a local hospital where he died.

“This deputy had to make a split-second decision, tried everything in his power not to deploy deadly force and now as an individual, even though this is a justified shooting, I have no doubt in my mind has to live with this, that he took somebody’s life," said Chronister.

According to Chronister, the sheriff's office previously responded to the home for a mental health evaluation and several welfare checks.

According to Griffin's girlfriend, he suffered from mental illness and was depressed over losing his wife and financial issues.

"Everyone struggles. There are some of you (who) may be struggling right now," Chronister said at a press conference. "If you are struggling call 211, there is help available."

Griffin's girlfriend told deputies it was like, "something out of a horror film," according to Chronister.

Per protocol, the deputy involved, 28-year-old Nguyen Tran, is being placed on administrative leave.