ORLANDO, Fla. — 9 Investigates Daralene Jones has learned more about the moments leading up the deadly encounter between Orlando officer Master Sgt. Debra Clayton and Markeith Loyd.
Loyd is accused of fatally shooting Clayton as she stopped to question him at a Walmart in Orange County on Monday, police said.
Loyd is wanted in connection to the death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon in December.
Clayton had a warm heart and a deep care for the community that she took an oath the serve and protect 17 years ago, police said.
“When someone tells you, ‘Hey, there is a murder suspect right there,’ we have to act. We're not like regular citizens where we can just go hide in our car, or wait, or call 911, we have to act,” said Orlando police Chief John Mina.
Clayton was alone when she encountered Loyd at the Walmart at John Young Parkway and Princeton Street.
“She's going to get eyes on him, trying to make contact, trying to find out exactly where he is. And in the meantime, she's calling it in on her police radio. I'm trying to attempt to contact a persons wanted for murder,” Mina said.
9 Investigates requested and reviewed the department's pursuit, which focuses solely on going after a suspect while in a vehicle.
Mina told Eyewitness News that there is nothing in written policies requiring an officer to wait for backup in a scenario like what Clayton found herself in Monday morning.
“She didn't do anything differently than I would've done. I've been a police officer for 26 years, if someone tells you, 'Hey, there is a murder suspect there,' you've got to go put eyes on that. We don't know if he's going to go back in the store and do harm to those people in there. We don't know if he's going to escape,” Mina said.
Mina said that for Clayton, sitting in her car and waiting for back up wasn’t an option in this case. Mina told Eyewitness News that backup responded within 28 seconds.
By then, police say Clayton was already exchanging gunfire with her accused killer.
“We believe he fired first at her, and then she returned fire. There was no time to take cover,” Mina said.
When asked whether the department will consider policy changes, Mina said there’s no way to have policies for every law enforcement action.
Cox Media Group