WINTER PARK, Fla. — The family of the man shot and killed by Winter Park police while attending his niece’s wedding reception is refuting what officers said happened leading up to the shooting.
Daniel Knight’s family held a news conference in Lakeland on Tuesday night alongside representatives from Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk Inc.
The 39-year-old’s family said Knight was not belligerent or violent during the reception at the Winter Park Events Center on Saturday.
“He was never harmful, he was never aggressive,” said Knight’s niece, Janisha Knight, the bride.
Winter Park police released the 911 call that led to police responding to the venue, in which the caller said a man was “grabbing people by the neck” and “shoving people to the floor.”
In audio released Monday, the caller said, “He’s grabbing an older woman and shoving her.” He was described as “violent” and “very drunk.”
Family members said the older woman the caller was speaking about was Daniel Knight’s mother, Patricia Keeby. But Keeby said her son was only helping her sit down because her feet hurt.
“He didn’t do nothing to me. I don’t have any bruises,” Keeby said. “I don’t have any scratches. He didn’t touch me.”
She described Knight, a father of four girls, as gentle and loving.
“He didn’t deserve that. His children don’t deserve that,” Keeby said. “I want answers and I want them prosecuted. This is not fair.”
Pastor Carl Soto, the co-founder and vice president of Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk Inc., said Knight’s family is asking that the shooting be investigated by the FBI and the Department of Justice and that charges be filed against the officers involved. He said the family is in the process of hiring an attorney.
“We do believe they are going to find wrongdoing of the officers who responded,” Soto said.
Investigators said when the first officer approached Knight, “there was a physical altercation that our officer was unconscious and incapacitated.” Police said that officer was punched in the face.
Additional officers arrived. According to police, a second officer tried to calm Knight without success. Police said the second officer used a stun gun on Knight but it caused “no change in behavior” and Knight continued to strike the officer.
Police said the second officer then shot Knight, who died later at a hospital.
Family members who said they were outside the venue with Knight when officers arrived said they did not witness an officer ever become unconscious.
Soto said that when the family asked to see the body camera footage from the police officers involved, the department said the cameras were inoperable at the time of the shooting.
The police department released the following statement after the news conference refuting that claim.
“The officer’s body worn cameras were working properly and recorded the encounter. The recordings have been supplied to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for their investigation. We will not provide any additional information or comments at this time,” the department’s statement read.
Channel 9 is working to gather additional details on this story. Stay tuned to Eyewitness News Tonight starting at 10 p.m. for live updates.
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