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Use of deadly force in Markeith Loyd's arrest was justified, state attorney says

'Stand your ground' law cited in decision

ORLANDO, Fla. – The deadly force authorities used during accused double murderer Markeith Loyd's arrest that ultimately resulted in the loss of one of his eyes has been deemed justified by State Attorney Phil Archer, who cited the state's "stand your ground" law.

FDLE released a statement Wednesday on Loyd's arrest on Jan. 17, 2017, which brought to end a manhunt that began when he fatally shot his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon then escalated after he killed Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton outside an Orlando Walmart as she tried to apprehend him, according to authorities.

Archer's office received a report for review July 10 by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

[Watch unedited helicopter video of Loyd's arrest below]

"After carefully examining the report and evidence, I have determined that the use of force used during the arrest of Markeith Loyd was lawful and justified under the provisions of Florida Statutes, and no further action will be taken by this office," Archer wrote in a statement to the media.

According to Archer's analysis, Sgt. James Parker, Sgt. Anthony Mongelluzzo, Officer Cedric Hinkles and Officer Jonathan Cute all from the Orlando Police Department, delivered multiple blows to Loyd as he was lying facedown outside a house on Lescott Lane, where he had been hiding.

[RELATED: Accused murderer Markeith Loyd says he was framed in courtroom outburst | Documents show Loyd was 'calm' after fatal gun battle with OPD officer ]

Archer said the officers' actions rose to level of deadly force.

Parker kicked Loyd in the face, delivered two or three muzzle strikes with his rifle to Loyd's back and punched the right side of Loyd's face; Mongelluzzo delivered one muzzle strike to Loyd's back and kicked Loyd once in the lower back and once in the shoulder; Hinkles kicked Loyd on the left side of his face and on the left shoulder blade, delivered one muzzle strike to the left side of his face and punched Loyd three times in the left shoulder; and Cute kicked Loyd once in the left side of his face, according to the report.

It took six officers 42 seconds to put Loyd in handcuffs. He lost his left eye and suffered multiple cuts as a result of the blows he sustained.

"The law, as it applies to the indisputable facts, dictates a finding that Sgt. Parker, Sgt. Mongelluzzo, Officer Hinkles and Officer Cute each used deadly force during Mr. Loyd's apprehension and arrest," the report reads.

Moments before he surrendered, Loyd had been on the phone with a friend who was encouraging him to not turn himself in, records show. Loyd went in and out of the house multiple times before he eventually threw two guns into the yard and crawled on his belly toward officers.

[READ: Sade Dixon accused Markeith Loyd of abuse before her death, family saysFallen Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton posthumously promoted]

Archer writes that although the repeated blows could have potentially killed Loyd, the use of deadly force was justified because officers believed he might have been armed, especially since authorities received word that Loyd made statements that indicated "law enforcement would have to kill him before he went back to prison."

The report outlines other reasons that Archer believes officers feared for their safety. Among the claims: Loyd stood over Clayton and shot her in the head after she had been knocked to the ground when he could have easily retreated; he fired at a captain's undercover vehicle as they were both driving, striking the front wheel; he wore a bulletproof vest during his apprehension as if he expected there to be a gun battle; and he constantly looked around him and ignored repeated commands.

Officers said they thought Loyd might have had a gun hidden in his bulletproof vest based on the way he moved his hands and hips. There were also fears that Loyd could have grabbed an officer's legs to bring him to the ground and gain control of his rifle, records show.

Archer said the fact that Loyd's injuries were localized to his face prove that he was ignoring commands to look down. The state attorney wrote that no officer struck Loyd after the initial encounter and "there is absolutely no evidence that he was subjected to any treatment or abusive behavior by law enforcement that warrants additional review."

One officer on the scene, however, reported seeing another unidentified officer spit on Loyd after his arrest, as they were trying to remove the bulletproof vest Loyd had been wearing and replace the handcuffs on his wrist with Clayton's pair.

[RELATED: How the hunt and capture of Markeith Loyd unfoldedMarkeith Loyd walks out of Walmart; seconds later, gun battle erupts, video shows]

The Orlando Police Department's internal use of force investigation is ongoing.

"State Attorney Phil Archer and his team have concluded their use of force investigation in to our officers who arrested Markeith Loyd. We certainly appreciate the thoroughness and due diligence that SA Archer and his staff have given to this investigation. With the State Attorney’s Office investigation now complete, the Orlando Police Department’s internal affairs investigation will continue. With our internal investigation underway, Chief Rolón will not be giving any media interviews so that his comments don’t have an impact on the outcome of that review," the department said.

Loyd's attorney, Terry Lenamon, provided a brief comment to News 6.

“You can’t publish what I really want to say,” Lenamon wrote in an email.

Loyd's trial in connection with Dixon's death will begin in September. He will face a second trial in May 2020  in connection with Clayton's death. If convicted, he could receive the death penalty.

Click here to read the state attorney's report in its entirety.


About the Author:

Adrienne Cutway

Adrienne Cutway joined News 6's digital team in October 2016 to cover breaking news, crime and community interest stories. She graduated from the University of Central Florida and began her journalism career at the Orlando Sentinel.

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