ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The Orange County Sheriff’s Office released 13 new videos this week from the scene of the Salaythis Melvin killing at the Florida Mall. Deputy James Montiel said he feared for his life when Melvin turned his head toward him, with a hand on a gun in his waistband.
The videos are from cameras worn by deputies responding after Salaythis Melvin was shot in the back and was on the ground gasping for air. The sheriff’s office said there are more than 10 hours of video, but none of it from the deputy who killed Melvin. That’s because he is among more than 500 deputies in the department who are not assigned a body camera.
What you can’t see underneath the new video, as we have blurred it out, is the near lifeless body of Melvin. Orange County deputies were trying to find a pulse and didn’t know his name.
“Anybody know this guy’s name? No. What’s your name dude? What’s your name dude? He’s out,” one deputy said.
The new videos released also give us a closer look at the gun that Montiel said he saw in Melvin’s waistband as he took off running. The sheriff’s office provided a photo of the same gun to the media just after the shooting outside of the Florida Mall on Aug. 7, but initially denied requests to release body camera video.
Sheriff John Mina released six clips minutes before the polls closed on primary election night, in which he won re-election. Only one clip provided insight into the shooting. From a distance you can see the moment Melvin is shot in the back as he’s running away.
Deputies with the Juvenile Arrest and Monitoring, or JAM unit, were not looking to arrest Melvin on Aug. 7. They had a warrant for Vanshawn Sands, who deputies had eyes on, and arrested for his alleged role in a gang-related drive-by shooting in July in the Pine Hills area.
In the videos, you can see he is cooperative, as deputies take him into custody, but he’s questioning why he’s being arrested. Deputies had already interviewed him about the drive-by shooting twice, according to court records, one time at the sheriff’s office headquarters.
For some reason, Montiel chased Melvin when he took off running. The new videos show the rush to get Melvin to Orlando Regional Medical Center, on oxygen. He died the next day, leaving his family and friends questioning why the deputy shot someone who was running away from him.
One friend, who considered Melvin a brother, can be heard saying, “You shot my brother for nothing.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement had not seen these videos prior to release, but it doesn’t appear they’re helpful in determining if the shooting was justified because they show the aftermath, again because that deputy was not assigned a camera. FDLE will turn over its findings to the Orange-Osceola County state attorney who will determine whether to pursue criminal charges against the deputy, who is now on paid administrative leave.
The family will bury their son Saturday, a day after a protest planned for Friday at the Sheriff’s Office.
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