ORLANDO, Fla. – The Citizens Review Board has rejected an internal investigation that exonerated an Orlando officer who fatally shot a man at a Colonial Drive shopping plaza in 2018.
During a meeting on Wednesday, board members voted 7-1 to disapprove the findings of Internal Affairs investigators with the Orlando Police Department.
On May 8, 2018, Officer Anthony Wongshue responded to a report of a shoplifting at Colonial Plaza shopping center. He and Officer Juan Abreu surrounded a van in the parking lot. Two people were in the van, and Wongshue opened fire at the driver, 32-year-old Juan Silva, as Silva tried to drive away, officials said.
Wongshue was indicted on a charge of manslaughter, which was later dropped. Both officers were eventually cleared of wrongdoing by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and an internal investigation by OPD.
At Wednesday's meeting, board members heard from an attorney representing the Silva family.
“There’s got to be something else there other than the vehicle, per OPD’s policy, that they’re being threatened with for them to be justified using their firearms for deadly force,” Jaeson Homola said.
Board members grappled with the split-second decisions that were made during the encounter, but some said policies outlined by OPD did not justify use of deadly force in the situation.
“We just need to follow the policy as written,” board member Tom Keen said. “It specifically says it’s prohibited.”
An attorney for the board said a letter outlining the reasons for rejecting the investigation will need to be written and delivered to OPD. The board decided the letter will be discussed at a future meeting.