LEESBURG, Fla. – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement ruled on Tuesday that the fatal shooting of a 26-year-old man by Lake County deputies was justified.
Andrew Lee Scott was shot and killed in July after opening his Leesburg apartment door while pointing a gun at deputies, according to authorities.
FDLE released its review on Tuesday saying that Deputy Richard Sylvester was justified in shooting Scott, which occurred while they were searching for another man -- Jonathon Brown, who had parked his motorcycle outside of Scott's apartment.
The report states that a fresh foot print, as well as misunderstanding a neighbor, led deputies to Scott's front door instead of Brown's.
According to the report, Sylvester fired a total of six shots after Scott opened the door with his gun pointed at Sylvester's face.
The state attorney's office said law enforcement officers must identify themselves if there is intent to forcibly enter the apartment. In Scott's case, the state attorney found deputies had no intent to forcibly enter the apartment, meaning they didn't need to identify themselves to Scott.
"If this was not going to be a forcible entry, then why in Heaven's name did the deputy have his gun drawn," said Mark Nejame, Scott's family attorney.
The report also stated there were inconsistencies in the statements given to deputies by Miranda Mauck, Scott's girlfriend, who was inside of the apartment the night of the shooting. The report states she originally told deputies she didn't see anything, but when she was interviewed again with her attorney present, she said Scott opened the door at a medium speed with the gun held in his left hand. She also said he was shot immediately.
Nejame said Mauck's inconsistencies were not what mattered.
"For her to have a relatively minor discrepancy... to me, that's very normal. What's not normal is everybody on the other side's statements lining up one at a time. What does that suggest to you? To many people, that suggests people got together to get their stories straight," he said.
Sylvester was put back on regular duty last month after LCSO completed its own internal investigation and determined there was no wrongdoing. Lake County Sheriff Gary Borders said he stood by his deputies' decision back in July.
"The deputy felt that his life and the lives of the deputies at the scene were in danger. And he took that action...because he had to," said Lt. John Herrell, spokesperson for the sheriff's office.
Scott's neighbors told Local 6 they believe deputies could have done more before opening fire.
"They had the means to do what they needed to do to find the right person and they didn't do that," said Lauren Downs. "They overreacted. They were trying to do their job but they went too far, and someone lost their life because of it, [someone] that was completely innocent."
Before the shooting, deputies learned the real suspect they were after was in another apartment, but the deputy who fired failed to get that information. Instead, he assumed the suspect was in Scott's apartment.
"My Heavens, they even had somebody tell them that they had the wrong guy and they still killed him," said Nejame.
Nejame said he plans to file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Lake County Sheriff's Office on behalf of Scott's family.