ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – An Orange County deputy shot and killed 22-year-old Salaythis Melvin outside the Florida Mall in August 2020. It became one of six cases where officers used deadly force inherited by State Attorney Monique Worrell when she was sworn-in in January of this year.
“It’s interesting to state that when we walked in there were six, so on day one I was already behind,” Worrell told News 6 said.
After creating a COVID-19 policy and a death penalty policy, Worrell has now created an Officer Involved Critical Incident Policy.
“What I wanted to do was create a consistent policy that the community, as well as law enforcement, could rely on — on how these incidents would be handled in my administration,” Worrell said.
When an officer uses deadly force in Orange and Osceola Counties, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates, so an independent agency with no connection to the officer is handling the case.
Under Worrell’s new policy, her office will now conduct its own investigation to run concurrently with FDLE’s
“Not only will one of our investigators show up to the scene, but also my Deputy Chief,” she said.
Worrell said the move does not mean she doesn’t have confidence in FDLE.
“No, it just means we, as lawyers, know what it takes to prove a case,” Worrell said. “This is something we spoke with them about and they didn’t have any reservations.”
Before now, FDLE would investigate, then present its report to the state attorney’s office.
Now the report will be reviewed by Worrell’s newly created officer-involved critical incident panel.
News 6 asked if the panel is adding to the bureaucracy.
“It may, it may add more bureaucracy,” Worrell said. “But it is more important that we complete a thorough investigation than a fast investigation so that we can ensure that justice is done in every case,” she said.
The panel will be made up of the Deputy Chief Assistant State Attorney, the Director of Public Accountability, two homicide prosecutors, three assistant state attorneys, and three investigators, according to Worrell.
The panel will then present its analysis to Worrell, who will determine if the deadly force was justified and whether the officer involved should be cleared or face charges.
If it’s too close to call the case will then be presented to the grand jury, according to the policy.
“Once I’ve signed off on the ultimate determination and we’ve presented our findings to the family, as well as to the law enforcement agency, our report will be available for the public to view,” Worrell said
Worrell said she is still getting feedback on the policy from law enforcement.
The new policy took effect on her 100th day in office.