We are still trying to get answers to questions about the body camera video released in the killing of Salaythis Melvin. An Orange County deputy assigned to a special unit shot the armed 22-year-old in the back outside of the Florida Mall on Aug. 7. The body camera video released, so far, shows Orange County deputies swarming a parking lot, after Vanshawn Sands, who had a warrant for his connection to a July shooting .
”The guy that you want, you have. Why are you chasing this guy who’s running away from you, these are questions the sheriff has to answer,” Attorney Carlus Haynes told us after reviewing the video on behalf of the family.
The video shows, at least one deputy had a gun pointed at Sands on the sidewalk, who’s immediately handcuffed and put in a squad car. At the same time, the video shows Deputy James Montiel still chasing Salaythis Melvin.
“When you shot him, you saw a black man who you saw had a gun and was running away from you all, but at the time you had no suspicion he had committed a crime,” Haynes said. Melvin had been arrested on July 28 for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and drug possession.
His parents’ attorney question how Melvin would’ve known for sure the person running after him with a gun was law enforcement. The arrest report we obtained was written by another deputy, not Montiel. It states, Agent Montiel exited his unmarked vehicle and saw Melvin holding a firearm in his waistband and gave verbal commands to drop the gun.
“The questions that I want you all to go and ask Sheriff Mina is‚ is this a good policy to have unmarked vehicles and unmarked officers serving arrest warrants,” Haynes said.
At least three unmarked vehicles can be seen from Skywitness 9 the day of the shooting. The Sheriff’s Office has not answered our questions about this, and released a statement saying due to pending litigation it wouldn’t be appropriate to answer questions at this time. Prior to that statement, we were told the department wouldn’t comment because of the FDLE investigation, which the Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said, may need to go even further.
Demings, who is also the former sheriff said he also has questions about the incident when he was asked about it during a news conference about the county’s response to COVID-19. “Until we have all of those questions answered I will continue to have a little uneasiness about it,” Mayor Demings said.
Body camera videos released, so far, provide only a snapshot of the seconds before Melvin was shot. And the deputy who shot him is not assigned a body camera, as part of his detail with the JAM Unit, which the department told us focuses on gang related violent crime.
It took demands from the public and pressure from the family before Sheriff John Mina released the video clips, 13 minutes before the primary election polls closed Tuesday, in which he won re-election. “I hope that in the coming days that we’ll get more information, more transparency out of the sheriff’s office,” Mayor Demings said.
Court records 9-Investigates obtained show Sands had been interviewed twice before, once at sheriff’s headquarters.
“They chose not to arrest him. He took them to the gun, told them where it was at,” Haynes said.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is now investigating the shooting and it will turn over its findings to the Orange-Osceola County State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who did not run for re-election and will be replaced by Monique Worrell in January. “That may or may not be sufficient, there quite frankly may have to be additional review by the department of justice in that case,” Mayor Demings said.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday tweeted this statement:
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