THE KILLING OF DEPUTY BARBARA PILL

Brevard County Deputy Sheriff, Barbara Pill, 52, was shot and killed on a residential street in Melbourne, by a petty thief on March 6th, 2012. News covereage went national. Funeral services were somber and well attended.

The suspect was being chased in a vehicle because he and his girl friend were stealing cheap furniture from a local motel. The suspect crashed the car but came out shooting. Pill’s back-up was not yet on the scene when she was stunned by bullets striking her vest. As she lay on the ground, the killer shot her in the head.

     Deputy Pill was the 21st on-duty police officer killed in 2012 in America. That same day, another female officer in Indiana was killed in a vehicular assault.

     If the standard trends continue, another 150 police officers will be killed before the end of 2012.

     Stalin once said that, “One death is a tragedy, one thousand deaths is a statistic.” With numbers, we lose sight of the human aspect and how if affects everyone.

     Barbara Pill is more than a statistic. She was a compassionate human being, a shining star within her community, a mother, a wife and a devotee to her chosen profession. This killing not only impacts the deceased, it impacts a community, a police agency, hundreds of comrades, friends and family members. The ripple effect is far reaching. We often lose track of that.

     Barbara Pill leaves a husband as a grieving widower, an emotional trauma from which he will never fully recover.

     She leaves two loving sons and their wives and children and future children that will never know their grandmother.

     Barbara Pill’s network of admiring friends and family extends far beyondMelbourne, too numerous too mention. They will no longer hear her voice, feel her presence, share her dreams.

     The people of the community have lost thirty years and two agencies of law enforcement background, which will be replaced by a rookie who cannot fill those shoes. We lose a dedicated and experienced servant.

     The killer will probably be tried, found guilty and sent to Death Row where he will sit of some 25 years as legal delays keep him alive and medically fit at taxpayer’s expense, to the tune of some $3 million, or more.

     The killer’s 19 year-old accomplice will most likely be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole, another burden upon the taxpayer for some fifty years, racking up a cost of some $1.5 million to theFloridataxpayers.

     For a few pieces of furniture from a cheap motel and a momentary thrill for a criminal to kill a cop.

     Pill was white, the shooter black. I dare not even imagine that the ruthless killing had anything to do with racial hatred. Probably not, after all, we’re not seeing national demonstrations of white officer organizations all over the country, waving fists and demanding justice. This was just another criminal killing another cop.

     Daily, police officers don their uniforms and kiss spouses goodbye thinking they’ll be home again later that day. But for 160-170 police officers a year, that won’t happen.  A cop never knows what awaits them behind the wheel of a car or what dangers lurk during a domestic argument call.  It only takes a split second, a momentary hesitation, a worry over right from wrong. What will the Monday morning quarterbacks say?

     Folks should remember Barbara Pill the next time they’re quick to criticize a cop’s reaction to a perilous situation. Cops are not always perfect because they are human.

     Been there, done that. I have walked in Barbara Pill’s shoes. In 1965, I was serving a warrant in Miami when I had two seconds to think about a surprise gun pointed my way. Luckily the bullet struck a leg and not my brain.

     It’s a dangerous world out there for police officers.                          

     We should all remember Barbara Pill. Community hero. 

 

30 Responses to THE KILLING OF DEPUTY BARBARA PILL

  1. Donald March 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Well said Marshall. Every time a police officer walks up to a car he puts his life in jeopardy. Think about that the next time you get stopped by a police car. The officer doesn’t know who you are or what your reaction will be when he arrives at your door. While you’re thinking about the fine you may have to pay, the officer risked his life to give you the ticket.

    We are very fortunate that we have people in our society who are willing to put on a blue uniform and devote their lives to keeping us safe. They are just as valuable to our society as are the men and women who serve in our military. We owe them all a debt of gratitude.

  2. Jay March 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    I have respect for anyone in Law enforcement. As sad as it sounds, they are human shields for people like us (civilians) . It’s not just a job, but a sacrifice. I have friends in Law Enforcement and I have to remember every wonderful – hour – minute – and – second I spend with them. Most of all, I do my best to live in the present moment with my fellow police officers.

    RIP Barbara Pill

  3. Marcy March 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    I had the pleasure of working with Barbara when she worked as a secretary for the Dade County Public Safety Dept., as it was known back then. She was a very caring individual. All who worked with her were very sorry to see her go when she moved to Melbourne.

    I imagine that she continued to be that same caring individual and that is one of the reasons why she joined the Brevard County S.O.

    I agree with you, Marshall. Law enforcement in general and Brevard County have suffered a very tragic loss.

    We will all miss you, Barbara.

  4. Dave Rivers March 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Well said Captain. I remember her, slightly, from her work on our Department too. Very sad for her family. My prayers go out each day for those still patrolling the streets and working on departments around the country. I’m glad I made it with a few stitches, several shootings, but most of all a lot of great memories and great friends.

  5. Luis March 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    Every day we see the continuous deterioration of our society as reflected by the violence against law abiding citizens and police officers among others. The unnecessary killing of this oficer should be a reminder to always be vigilant and not take any situation as routine; most of the times I hear about this crime against law enforcement, it is a routine stop. In my book, there are no routine stops and a small hesitation will cost you your life like in this case.
    She, along with fellow officers, had a thankless job.
    I am not law enforcement but a veteran that see the hard core criminals commit crimes and go free. The courts have grossly failed to protect society at large from magets of this caliber. Criminals have a revolving door to send them free and commit more crimes with the graduation being a murder.
    By prayers are with her and all law enforcement officers for putting their lives in the line.

  6. Dick Calvert March 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    Marshall,
    Well said and I couldn’t agree with you more and I also agree the other replys from those we both know. Fortunately we worked in a different era which had it’s unique problems but now it may be much harder than we had it. My heart goes out to all who serve as Police Officers somewhere and anywhere in this country.

  7. John Chinn March 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    Did anyone hear Obama make a National Televised Public Statement about how tragic was this LAdy’s Death ? Please let me know if you did. I must have missed that.

    • Ed Hensley March 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

      No John, nor do I even recall seeing this on national news.
      Not that I watch the Lamestream Media much but I do comb DRUDGE
      daily. No surprise to see Obama seek to use a 17 y/o’s death for his
      re-election campaign. SOP for J. Jackson, A. Sharpton & L. Farakoun
      to fire up the race baiting limo for a media tour…….But, I am damn well
      disheartened to see FL Gov. Jeb Bush stick his foot in his mouth, with
      the Trayvon Marton investigation still ongoing, when I have yet to see
      Gov. Jeb comment on the murder of Deputy Barbara Pill. Here’s Jeb:

      In Arlington, Jeb Bush says ‘stand your ground’ invalid in Trayvon Martin case: > http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/arlington/headlines/20120323-in-arlington-jeb-bush-says-stand-your-ground-invalid-in-trayvon-martin-case.ece
      http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/dpp/news/state/witness-martin-attacked-zimmerman-03232012

      OK, I suppose Gov. Jeb Bush has expressed his condolence to the
      Family, LE Peers & Friends of Deptury Barbara Pill but that would be
      nice to see in the news, instead of opening up DRUDGE to a top, front
      & center photo of Jessee Jackson shouthing “BLACKS under ATTACK.

      How about we pester DRUDGE, for a headline photo of slain Deputy
      Pill, over a linked story, “America’s Cops Under Attack.”

    • Corinna Smith March 26, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

      Hello. I am the sister in law of Barbara Pill. She was such a beautiful person inside and out who cared for and helped anyone and everyone. Right after this happened I contacted CNN and even sent them information from television stations in Orlando, FL. I called and emailed them several times. I was told on the phone that Deputy Barbara Pills death, while tragic, wasn’t news worthy enough to broadcast on their network. But they cover all sorts of stupid stuff like an off duty officer driving a patrol car around with a mattress strapped to the top or a dog playing the piano while it howls.

      I am very disappointed in the national media. I do not live in Florida and so I have to scour the internet and mostly go on Orlando, FL television and local paper websites to get information on my sister in law.

      Our family is still struggling with the loss of one of the best people we have ever known. My daughter and I now go out of our way to thank every law enforcement officer we come into contact with.

      I am confident that something really good will come out of Barbara’s death. I’m not sure what, but she was an amazing person in life and in death she will still have an amazing impact somehow.

      • Christopher Jones March 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

        Let me add my personal condolences regarding the death of your sister in law. I am a retired police officer, who has attended too many funerals (one is too many) of cops who laid in on the line.

        It is no surprise that CNN did what they did. They are not a friend to law enforcement…and never will be as long as someone like Ted Turner owns and runs it. We see ad nauseum the black panthers prancing around putting out contracts on people before they are even charged with a crime, and they are looked at by CNN as some kind of heros. But a story where a few thugs (who in this case happened to be black) murder a cop…and well…that isn’t newsworthy. I wonder if there is some kind of reverse discrimination here?

        I have made it my goal to do the following: If I see a uniformed officer having a meal at a restaurant, I will buy them their meal (anonymously), with the instructions to the cashier that they only tell the cop that a citizen who cares picked up the tab. If just those that read this blog start the trend, it will make a difference.

        Chris Jones, Beaufort, S.C.

        • Christopher Jones March 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

          Incredible typo…the first paragraph should read ( of course) died in the line of fire

          my apology

  8. Luis March 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    No, Obama never mentioned this killing in any of his worthless speaches… Did not meet the criteria of someone like Sandra Fluke on contraception or the Martin case in Sanford ( a perfect kid for what we hear, suspended from school for 10 days and reason to go to Sanford).
    It would be too demanding on the president’s time to remember a person that made her job to protect society, including someone as worthless as him…
    Like I said while serving in the military for 20 years, “We defend democracy, we don’t practice it”…
    His motto is “Do as I say, not as I do”…

  9. Neal Stannard March 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Marshall, FYI, when I did this story on the local news (NewsRadio 1490, WTTB, Vero Beach), I included a voicer from Lieutenant Tim Frith, area commander for FHP, about people who are offended when stopped by a cop with weapon drawn or hand on weapon…Tim mentioned that the LEO has no way of knowing how you, the motorist, will respond…you could have a sawed-off shotgun on the seat, how would he/she know? A pilot friend of mine once described flying as hours and hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror…I can only assume that law enforcement is even more so.

    Comparing the Trayvon Martin case to Deputy Pill is comparing apples to oranges. Martin’s case deserves attention, but so does the loss of this fine woman.

  10. Thomas Ault March 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    Marshall,
    As always you have written a great piece regarding the officer. The people that are affected by any brutal killing are frequently overlooked and soon forgotten.

    It is more worthy of remembering when the person is one who is dedicated to stand between the upstanding citizenry and the misfits of which there seem to be too many.

    Thanks for a fine article, and we too will grieve the loss of this fine woman and protector.

  11. Kathleen March 24, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    So well written and from experience. Thank you

  12. Christopher Jones March 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    Thanks for what you wrote about Barbara. I did not know her personally, but she was my sister, as leo’s are all my brothers and sisters.

    I had not heard about her murder here in Beaufort…we have only heard about the other Florida mess that you currently are dealing with. I guess it was just another cop killing…ho hum…no need to report on that.

    I don’t know why anyone puts on the uniform any more. The public cares less and less every day. Nearly every bridge and major intersection in Beaufort Co., SC, is named after an officer killed in the l.o.d. And the people who cross them have no idea.

    Rest in peace Barbara. God be with your family…

  13. reality March 24, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    Thank you Marshall. I too am saddened by another senseless killing. But would Barbara Pill’s family and friends be helped by Obama’s attention to her murder? Wouldn’t ending the Drug War against Marijuana at least start decreasing the # of parents put in jail? http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2009/may/20/marshall-frank-pro-con-america-winning-war-drugs-n/ And where are the law enforcement personnel demanding that Obama take marijuana off the Schedule 1 list of most dangerous drugs of no medicinal value? Columnist Mike Royko polled the cops he knew in Chicago long ago, and they said drugs should be legalized. But here we still are, with Prohibition causing ever more violence corruption, and taxpayer bills. Recently I heard it was the Police Unions in CA who campaigned most strongly against legalizing marijuana. You know better than me what perks, honors, etc. would cause them to do that. Please explain. And if you really want to stop the killing of good people, please focus on the real threats, rather than the Muslim Horde. Have you seen “Weeds”? How much Terrorism is funded by Drugs?

  14. Frank White March 25, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    Where are the cries for justice from Mr. Obama for Barbara, as in the recent
    Trayvon Martin cries for justice by Mr. Obama.
    I did not hear any news outlet presenting the police officer’s side of the story.
    Something needs to change.
    My heart goes out to Barbara’s family, i can only say thanks for her service, and to the many like her we are so, so fortunate to have.

  15. greg March 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    Marshall: Good story. On target as always. Please see the new Indiana law which empowers citizens to resist law enforcement if they “reasonably believe that ” the actions of police are wrong. There is a huge problem in this country, and it is multi-faceted. The devaluation of human life is horrific, in general. The total lack of respect for law enforcement is on the rise (as evinced by the significant increase in violent homicides of law enforcement members) and the “right to keep and bear arms” has been bastardized by the various state legislatures as we head back 130 years to the “Old West” and it’s mentality. Stand Your Ground was carelessly drafted and enacted with no real thought as to consequence from strict interpretation. Personally, I believe every stand your ground case that results in a fatality should go to a grand jury. I have a desire to return to the relative safety of an era where there were consequences for egregious acts. I am for state’s rights and the need for the Federal government to butt out of local issues. Keep enacting these stupid laws and watch our civilization fall to lawlessness and despair. I guess I won’t be having a beer at the White House this year!!

  16. Luis March 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    There are over 2200 gun laws in the books. None of them allow anyone to comit a crime or use a fire arm illegally. The Second Ammendment was written for “lawfull citizens”, not criminals in the commission of felonies.
    Trayvon case has been made a political game run by people that the last thing they care is due process as stated by State Rep Frederika Wilson in Michael Putniks program today… even though she voted for the Stand your ground law, today she said “danm the law and arrest Zimmerman”. So, law is convenient when it is applied to you but not to yourself in her eyes.
    Maybe Zimmerman made a mistake, maybe the Sanford police department made a mistake in the investigation; whichever it is, let “due process” take it where it goes and enforce the laws in the books…
    The double standards set by political correcteness are damaging the ability of this country to do what is necessary and fair wtihin the limits of the law…
    Law abiding citizens should have the same rights as a police officer to defend his/her life and property against criminals… police officer carry weapons to defend themselves against criminals not the rest of the public. Citizens that follow the law and are trained properly are police officers best help out there except for other officers.
    People killing officers are the scum of society, not the rest of us.
    Barbara is dead because of a criminal that does not give a danm about the laws or regulations or training. For the ones in here that want to restrict good citizens from defending ourselves, I would like you to try and tell the same to the criminals; if you succeed on doing this, let me know.
    Sincerely,
    A veteran

  17. Frank Mina March 25, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    God Bless you, well written, the truth shall prevail.

  18. Pete March 26, 2012 at 1:25 am #

    How many times must we share the same thoughts and same words. It is all too sad for all affected. Unfortunately, it is usually only those who can understand the agony who truly understand the tragedy.

  19. Jerry Minor March 26, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I am a baby boomer, born in 1953, in our generation folks watched out for each other, and peace officers we’re respected.
    If a neighbor or somone was being accosted or robbed or a police officer needed assistance the right thing to do was to step up.
    If that had happened in this case, if somone had been on watch then maybe this officer and others like her would still be alive.
    Neighborhood watches are a good thing, but respect and courtesy for peace officers is NO LONGER taught OR observed by the new generation!!!
    They need to take a lesson from us ( Old Folks ) and teach their kids what we was taught, respect the law and those who enforce it !!!

    A Veteran

  20. Jan Siren March 26, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    Marshall,

    Officer Pill was a courageous and dedicated police officer doing her duty and was killed in the line of duty. All you say in support of her I agree with. As far as I am concerned, if the alleged shooter and accomplice are convicted and put away for life, justice will have been served.

    I think those who have attempted in some way (to score political points or otherwise) to link this case to Trayvon Martin are misguided. That case is very important, but should be discussed separately. You were right to carefully avoid mentioning the latter case in what you wrote.

    One aspect of the event that you might have mentioned, but didn’t, was the reality of the multi-thousands of arrest warrants outstanding in this county alone. I had no idea there were so many. There were warrants out on the suspect. Had a warrant had been served on the suspect on time, he would have been put behind bars earlier and Officer Pill might still be alive. I would like to know your view of that as a former policeman.

    • greg March 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

      An incredibly interesting and valid point which could be a discussion piece of its own. I can recall a time when I did research on that very topic some years ago. The numbers were shocking. I found over 100,000 criminal warrants outstanding in the county (largest metro area in the Southeast United States hint hint) and a concurrent number of traffic warrants. During further research I did find that there were a bunch of warrants on people deceased, as well as incarcerated already, and working with the Clerk and the State Attorney we cleared a lot from my jurisdiction and they made it a project to clear up the backl;og through research, but MANY were active and valid.
      Unfortunately, as with everything else it becomes a matter of resources. In a major jurisdiction, and even in smaller ones it is tough to expend the time and personnel to trtack down every open warrant. So the warrant units, if they have them, usually concentrate on the worst offenders and hope that the lesser offenses get caught through the everyday operations such as traffic stops. Sadly, this also leads to the type of murder we are discussing here, for the person knows that they are wanted and the officer approaching rarely has that information up front.
      I grieve this loss and the loss of every badge each and every day.

  21. Hoyt El;rod March 27, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    The loss of those who bravely defend our security & freedom is always tragic; this even more so considering the circumstances.

    What a contrast in responses by the public between this and the recent Sanford incident. No surprise there.

  22. elmer johnson March 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    I’m only thinking out loud! But if the perp were white, would anyone be putting this up for discussion? Just asking!

    • John Chinn March 29, 2012 at 12:01 am #

      If the perp , as you term it, Elmer, were Black in the Trayvon Martin case would there be all the National Media attention. Case in point. In Chicago’s SouthSide in the same time frame as Trayvon Martin, 10 Black Youths were killed. All killed by other Blacks . HAve you heard a National Cry about them. Has Obama said any of them would look like his son if he had a son ? Next question . Who said the perp of Deputy Pill was red , white black or green. In Marshalls story I did not recall seeing a reference to color

  23. reality March 29, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    It is a matter of resources, and attention. But is it law enforcement personnel themselves, who give more priority to the Drug War, and desire the money and metals that result from arresting addicts & dealers? Do Police unions fight the legalization and taxation of marijuana, and even spend dues money lobbying against the End of this Prohibition?

  24. Jocelyn April 14, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    God blessed you