ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando Police Department internal review found that four officers acted “reasonably” when they delivered blow after blow while arresting accused cop killer Markeith Loyd on Jan. 17, 2017.
The 51-page report released Thursday evening provided detailed accounts from each of the four officers as well as testimony from other law enforcement officers on scene who surrounded the home on Lescot Lane and witnessed Loyd crawling across the yard before he was taken into custody.
All four officers who kicked, punched or otherwise struck Loyd expressed similar fear, saying they knew Loyd was accused of killing Orlando Police Sgt. Debra Clayton execution style outside a John Young Parkway Walmart nine days earlier and they didn’t want to meet a similar fate.
Loyd was not interviewed as part of the investigation. However, as he was being escorted to jail after his 2017 arrest with his face covered in blood, he repeatedly yelled, “They beat me up” to members of the media.
Already, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement had conducted its own review of what happened during the violent arrest. Those findings were sent to State Attorney Phil Archer who agreed the officers acted within reason, citing the state’s Stand Your Ground law.
[Watch unedited helicopter video of Loyd’s arrest below]
In OPD’s review, Sgt. James Parker, Sgt. Anthony Mongelluzzo, Officer Cedric Hinkles and Officer Jonathan Cute described Loyd’s actions that led them to believe he could be hiding a weapon under his bulletproof vest as he crawled toward the street.
In addition to Loyd crawling without using his legs, the officers said that the way Loyd was looking around made them believe he was plotting something. They also noted that he had the chance to surrender when he was confronted at the back of the house but instead went back inside, then tried to escape from the carport where he was confronted a second time before ultimately throwing two guns out the front door and exiting the house that way.
The fact that Loyd was wearing a ballistic vest also led to suspicion, the officer said. That, on top of information they’d received in daily intelligence briefings that Loyd didn’t want to go back to prison and was willing to put up a fight put them on edge, records show.
“The evening that we located him everybody was on high alert,” Parker said. “We thought for sure he was trying to go down in a blaze of glory.”
Each of the officers was asked to justify each time they used force on Loyd.
All in all, 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 an earlier report released by Archer’s officer.
Loyd lost his left eye as a result of the beating. His lawyer also claims he now suffers from multiple traumatic brain injuries.
One sergeant who was not involved in the arrest but reviewed the video and statements said Loyd was at first passively resisting by not following commands to look away and by not putting his hands behind his back but then moved to resisting actively when he tensed his arms as officers were trying to handcuff him.
One officer agreed that Loyd was at first passive, possibly as a way to trick officers and “ambush” them once they thought he was complying.
“I had it pictured, he’s going to roll because everyone... now you’ve got three to four guys within hand’s reach of this guy and obviously the only thing he could conceal in his pants would be a handgun at he time,” an officer whose name was redacted said. “It’s going to be fast, even if he gets hit by us he’s going to at least take one more person with him and that’s my God’s honest thought that I had in that time frame.”
The sergeant said each blow was justified based on the totality of the circumstances.
All four officers interviewed stood by their actions. All four were also asked if they used force as a form of retaliation since they knew Loyd was accused of killing Clayton and his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon. All four replied no.
Of everyone interviewed, the only person to raise an alarm was a sergeant from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office who said the officers’ behavior when they stood over Loyd as a group while Loyd was on the ground was “inappropriate.”
The sergeant said he told the officers, “Hey, enough, enough. Back up, back up” in order to diffuse the situation. He also said he saw an unknown officer spit in Loyd’s direction.
The review included an investigation into claims that Loyd was beaten after he was handcuffed as he was positioned behind patrol cars outside the Lescot Lane home and allegations that Loyd was sexually assaulted after his arrest.
One deputy admitted that Loyd was “jostled around a bit” as law enforcement officers tried to remove his bulletproof vest but “it wasn’t in a malicious or you know, a bad manner of any way.”
The report ultimately concluded there was no evidence of either of those two claims.
The lengthy document ends with a summary of the allegations against Loyd, the intelligence they had gathered on him which included his propensity toward firearms and other factors that led officers to believe he could have been planning to open fire.
“Given the totality of the circumstances, (the officers) used force which they reasonably believed necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to themselves, fellow officers of nearby civilians,” the report read. “None of the officers involved in the apprehension of Loyd were equipped with a Taser, chemical agent of ASP baton. All four utilized intensified techniques in a low-light environment to overcome the actions of a known violent fugitive.”
Loyd was sentenced to life in prison in October for fatally shooting Dixon and injuring her brother as he tried to protect her. He has yet to stand trial in connection with Clayton’s death.