‘Like a sister’: Sheriff, commissioner remember OPD Lt. Debra Clayton as murder trial looms

ORLANDO, Fla. — Sheriff John Mina says not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about the day Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton was killed nearly five years ago.

“It’s something that sticks with me a lot,” Mina said. “It’s something i think about almost every single day.”


Mina was the Orlando police chief when Clayton was killed. She was the first and only officer killed in the line of duty while he was the police chief.

On Tuesday, another group of jurors was called in for questioning in a jury selection process for the murder trial related to her death. It’s a process that could take weeks.

UPDATES: Day 3 of jury selection in Markeith Loyd’s murder trial

Markeith Loyd is accused of killing Clayton in January 2017 while he was on the run for the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend.

Friends and co-workers of Clayton say the trial is opening up old wounds, but they are ready to get it over with.

READ: Who was Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton?

Clayton grew up in Orlando and went on to the University of Central Florida where she received a master’s degree.

She was married with one son, and left a hole in far more peoples’ hearts.

Commissioner Regina Hill and Clayton had been friends for years.

READ: Who is Markeith Loyd?

“She was more like a sister,” Hill said. “I still mourn Debra everyday.”

Hill said Clayton was known for her service to the community and her passion for bringing people together.

Long before George Floyd’s death swept the nation, spurring protests across the country, Clayton was already working to bring police and the Black community together.

READ: Potential jurors face additional questioning for Markeith Loyd murder trial

“She was here to help with that bridge in the gap of community policing before it was popular,” Hill said.

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Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.