WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy under investigation in a recent fatal shooting on duty was found dead in an apparent suicide, authorities said yesterday.
Samuel Peixoto, 38, shot and killed a man who he said attacked him during a traffic stop in March. He had been on paid administrative leave since the shooting.
His death occurred 11 months after his brother, Helder "Sonny" Peixoto, a former Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer, jumped to his death from the 11th floor of a West Palm Beach condominium complex. Police believe Helder Peixoto committed suicide just after he killed his girlfriend, Amity Kozak, with a hammer. Her body was found inside his condo. He was accused of police brutality during his five years on the MBTA force and left after his 2004 conviction on vehicular homicide charges for striking another car while on duty and killing the driver.
Samuel Peixoto was discovered just before midnight Tuesday with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, police said. His home and car were also set on fire.
Authorities believe Peixoto set the fires before killing himself. Sheriff's spokesman Paul Miller said Peixoto's on-duty shooting in March was being investigated.
Authorities initially said Peixoto acted in self defense, but the investigation recently determined the shooting did "not transpire as it was originally reported by the deputy," Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said. The findings of the investigation are set to be complete next week, he said.
"There might have been fabrication of evidence," Miller added.