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Family of UCF student killed in crash sues Orange County sheriff

Attorney says deputy should have never initiated pursuit

Kailyn Jones, 22, was killed in a crash hours before the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub.
Kailyn Jones, 22, was killed in a crash hours before the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub.


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The family of a University of Central Florida student killed during a high-speed chase is suing the Orange County sheriff, the deputy who was involved in the chase, and the man he was chasing.

The deputy's body camera captured the chase as he pursued a black BMW on June 12, 2016. The BMW was speeding and eventually drove between two cars down the middle of the road.

Moments later, the BMW crashed into 22-year-old Kailyn Jones' car and killed her.

[WEB EXTRA: Risk vs. reward: How police decide to pursue a violent felon]

Kailyn's father, Maurice Jones, said more has to be done to prevent these crashes.

"I just think that everything that happened that night could have been avoided," he said

Kailyn's parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, Deputy Kyle Gabrus, who was behind the wheel, and the man he was chasing, Andre Lee Davis-Johnson.

"Whatever it was that caused him to initiate that chase, it wasn't worth my daughter’s life," Jones said.

[READ: Officer on I-4 takedown of bank robbery suspect: 'It was bumper cars out there']

According to the deputy's report, he was trying to stop Davis-Johnson because he "pulled out in front of other vehicles."  

This violated the department's policy, which states "pursuits for traffic or civil infractions are prohibited," the lawsuit alleges.

Kailyn's mother, Leah Betancourt, said the pursuit was unacceptable.

"There are rules for a reason," Betancourt said. "It can mean the difference between life and death and that's exactly what it meant in this situation."

[WEB EXTRA: Man on LSD leads police on chase, believes he's in 'Grand Theft Auto']

The deputy's speed hit 65 mph in a residential area where the speed limit is 25 mph, according to the lawsuit.

Ed Normand, the family's attorney, agreed that the deputy should never have initiated a pursuit.

"You don't go on high-speed chases passing day care centers, passing synagogues over an improper left turn," he said.

The deputy was initially given a written reprimand for activating his emergency lights prior to calling in the traffic stop to dispatch.

Protocol requires deputies to call first, then activate their lights.

[READ: Man puts woman in trunk before leading 120 mph chase, deputies say]

"Something needs to be done," Jones said. "There shouldn't be any other families that have to sit down and go through what we're going through. Someone needs to be held accountable."

Kailyn's parents believe Andre Lee Davis-Johnson is ultimately to blame. He entered a plea and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. They also believe if Gabrus had followed protocol, their daughter would still be alive.  

Gabrus is still working for the sheriff’s office.  A spokesperson from the Orange County Sheriff's Office told News 6 they are aware of the lawsuit but cannot comment about pending litigation.


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