Polk County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Noah Cannon heard a truck door close and the engine start to rev.
Seconds later, he saw Erick Monk – the suspect he and five other deputies were serving a warrant to – come barreling around the corner in a pickup truck. Cannon and the other deputies shouted commands for Monk to stop the vehicle – he didn’t.
Cannon and another deputy had to jump out of the way to avoid being struck.
A jury found Monk guilty Wednesday of two counts of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and resisting officers with force while armed. He faces a mandatory life sentence, which will be imposed September 22.
Assistant State Attorney Stephanie Weil took jurors back to the early morning hours of March 3, 2016, around 1 a.m.
Six deputies surrounded Monk’s house, which is situated on the edge of an orange grove, and had their weapons drawn with flashlights on as they exited the groves and stepped on to his property. As they approached the house, they heard movement by the front gate.
The deputies immediately identified themselves as members of PCSO and said they were there to arrest Monk, who immediately began cursing and demanding they leave his property. He then ran away from the gate and into the dark.
As the deputies then set up a perimeter around his house, Cannon heard the truck door slam and its engine rev up.
“The truck turned toward me and the engine revved,” Cannon said from the witness stand. “He drove directly at me.”
Cannon said he was getting ready to fire his weapon at Monk when he saw another deputy behind the truck and in his line of sight. That’s when Cannon did the only thing he was able to: jump out of the truck’s path.
“If I hadn’t jumped out of the way, I would have been hit,” he said.
As Monk continued driving the vehicle and rounded another corner of the house, he came up on PCSO Deputy Dustin Freeman.
“His headlights followed me as I tried to move out of the way. He was veering off the path and driving toward me as I was trying to run,” Freeman said from the stand. “I could see nothing but headlights on me once he came around the corner. I thought he was going to run me over.”
“I was afraid he was going to kill me or one of my partners,” he said.
That’s when, Freeman said, he raised his weapon and fired three rounds at the vehicle in an attempt to stop the threat. As soon as the first shot was fired, Freeman watched as Monk immediately turned the truck away from Freeman.
Monk lost control of the vehicle and struck a citrus tree. He then exited the truck and got on his knees, where the deputies were able to contain him.
During the trial, Monk took the stand, claiming he didn’t know the men on his property were deputies because he never heard the identify themselves. ASA Weil reminded Monk of his own father’s testimony: The deputies’ yells were loud enough for his father, who is hard of hearing, to have heard who they were from the inside of the house.
Monk then claimed he was able to see their patrol cars, which were parked 150 yards away and had all their lights turned off, but he did not see the deputies emerge from the orange groves with flashlights.
In a last attempt to defend himself, Monk said that the mother of his son’s child was staying in the shed with him and had an active warrant out for her arrest. The reason why he got in the vehicle was to lure deputies away from her – not to harm them in any way.
“Every single deputy told you they believed either their life or somebody else’s life was in danger. Could they all be mistaken?” Weil asked jurors. “The only source of conflict in this entire trial is the testimony of Monk – he is not credible.”