Fatal deputy-involved shooting victim’s family say ’there’s got to be a better way’

Deputy Involved Shooting Protest

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - “Never in a million years, I’d think calling the police would end up in my mother’s murder,”

Nicole Pipitone holding back tears as she describes the moments before her mother, 63-year-old Adrean Stephenson was killed Sunday night.

Nicole and her husband, Thomas Pipitone, say Stephenson suffered from Dementia and Alzheimers. Both say Adrean had an episode the night she was killed.

“My mother-in-law grab the knife. I pushed my wife out the way, pull the door closed right behind her. Brought my wife to a safe spot, then she called the police... My mother-in-law comes out with a knife in her back pocket she’s bleeding from the neck and had blood on her shirt. And went out the door,” says Thomas Pipitone.

On Monday, Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said his deputies did respond to a domestic battery call near the 4000 block of Dyer Lane that night.

Sheriff Knight says when they arrived on scene, they found Stephenson holding an 8-inch knife with cuts on her body and holding the knife to her neck.

Deputies say they told Stephenson to drop the knife multiple times before deploying the taser and then fatally shooting her.

“We believe that there’s got to be a better way. She’s a 63-year-old woman,” says Thomas

“My mother was mentally ill, obviously we know that. But I called for assistance and what I witnessed was a murder and now today I’m without my mother,” says Nicole.

Wednesday afternoon a small demonstration took place outside the Sarasota County Jail to bring awareness of Stephenson’s death.

Calling on law enforcement to change their tactics when dealing with people who suffer mental illness.

“The police need help. I’m not saying they need to be eliminated. I’m against eliminating the police however, I am for retraining and adding resources to for specifically reasons like this,” explains Thomas.

The Pipitones has set up a GoFundMe for Stephenson’s funeral expenses.

The deputy involved in the shooting has been placed on Administrative Leave.

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