ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando police sergeant violated department policy in a 2018 shooting that left Orlando police Officer Kevin Valencia in a coma, according to an internal Orlando Police Department investigation.
According to the investigation by OPD, Sgt. Amanda White, an agency veteran of almost 10 years, authorized Valencia to break through the door of an apartment where domestic violence suspect Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr. was hiding with four children.
The Orlando Sentinel first reported OPD’s findings.
On June 10, 2018, after Lindsey attacked his girlfriend-- dragging her by her hair and kicking her in the face about five times-- she fled and called 911 leaving Lindsey in the apartment with the four children, two of whom were his own, according to the report.
As OPD officers attempted to make contact with Lindsey and the children the girlfriend gave them a key to the apartment. White covered the apartment door peephole with a piece of gum, according to the report.
Valencia attempted to use the key to open the door but it broke off in the lock, according to the investigation.
“I think he’s holding it sarge,” Valence said before the key broke off and White told him to “boot it.”
It was after Valencia kicked the door for a second time Lindsey opened fire shooting Valencia through the door, hitting him in the head, the report shows. Valencia remains in a coma to this day.
After Valencia was shot, another officer opened fired about six rounds through the door to cause the shooter to run and then pulled Valencia away from the area. That officer was cleared for his use of deadly force through the investigation.
"[T]he decision to kick the door made by Sergeant Amanda White was made in good faith, but was not made to an acceptable standard of performance and was NOT within Orlando Police Department’s Policies and Procedures,” investigator Nick Collins wrote in his report.
White told investigators she made the decision to force entry because there were no sounds coming from the apartment.
“I felt like the kids, like we needed to get inside for the kids. There was no sound coming from inside,” White told investigators. In another interview, she said it was a “gut feeling that there’s just ... something is not right."
The shooting sparked a lengthy standoff during which Lindsey killed the children and himself, according to authorities.
White was given an eight-hour suspension for substandard performance and carelessness, according to the investigation.
Collins said White’s decision also violated the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unlawful search and seizure.
OPD issued a statement Friday following the report.
"We continue to pray and support Kevin and his family during this difficult time. In the law enforcement profession, we find ourselves having to make split-second decisions for the safety of our citizens. June 10, 2018, is a date that was a tragedy for everyone involved. Innocent lives were lost and others changed forever. Although the actions taken that day were in the interest of the safety of all involved, the agency’s investigation revealed that department policy was violated and discipline was issued.
After receiving treatment at a hospital in Georgia, Valencia was returned in early 2019 to Orlando, where he remains in a coma.