ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The family of a 22-year-old Orange County man was able to watch the body camera video showing a deputy fatally shooting him in a Florida Mall parking lot more than a week after he was shot.
According to an arrest affidavit, Orange County Sheriff’s Office Agent James Montiel opened fire on Salaythis Melvin, 22, on Aug. 7 outside the Florida Mall.
Sheriff John Mina said Melvin had a stolen Glock handgun. When deputies approached, the 22-year-old ran away and toward Montiel, who got out of his unmarked vehicle and saw Melvin holding a stolen Glock handgun, records show.
Montiel drew his firearm and told Melvin to drop his gun but Melvin instead ran, according to the affidavit. The video released on Tuesday is too far away to show if Melvin has a weapon in his hands.
The sheriff said the incident began shortly after noon when deputies tried to approach a group of four individuals outside Dick’s Sporting Goods because one of the men had an active warrant for his arrest and was also a person of interest in a triple shooting that occurred on Powers Ridge Court in Pine Hills last month.
Carlus Haynes and Bradley Laurent, the attorneys representing Melvin’s mother, have been asking the Sheriff’s Office to release body camera video from the deputy who shot Melvin and those who were in the area.
On Tuesday, after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement cleared the release, the family was able to see the recordings for the first time, about an hour later the Sheriff’s Office released the videos as part of a public records request to News 6 and other news outlets.
After speaking with Melvin’s family and receiving their permission, News 6 WKMG is publishing all the videos in full. The content is graphic and viewer discretion is advised.
[Editor’s note: The video below is extremely graphic and shows the moments right before and after Melvin was shot, the rest of the videos can be viewed at the bottom of this story.]
Six videos of the shooting were released from six different deputies who were on scene. The first 60 seconds of all the videos do not have audio. Audio begins recording once the camera is activated, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
None of the videos released were from Montiel, the agent who shot Melvin. According to Melvin’s family attorney, he was not wearing a body camera or it was not on at the time of the shooting.
Most of the deputies in the video are wearing street clothes and Sheriff’s Office bullet-proof vests. All the vehicles involved in the operation were unmarked and did not indicate they were law enforcement, the video shows.
The first video showing Melvin, shows law enforcement officers approaching a group in the parking lot and Melvin running away. After he is shot, he falls to the ground face first and rolls to his back. He was about 100 yards from the agent who opened fire, according to the video.
Melvin was on the ground surrounded by about five law enforcement officers for about two minutes as deputies continued to tell him to “pull his hands out.”
“Get your hands out, you’re gonna get (expletive) shot,” a deputy says.
Melvin was lying motionless, face down on the pavement and didn’t respond.
He is then handcuffed before deputies begin first aid.
Less than three minutes into the encounter, deputies determined Melvin’s gunshot wound was in his back. Multiple times deputies acknowledged he was shot in the back with no exit wound.
One video shows deputies performing CPR on the 22-year-old as other deputies secure the area and wave over an ambulance.
“Where was he shot at?” a paramedic asks. “Back left,” a deputy responds.
Throughout the incident, Melvin remains handcuffed on the ground until paramedics arrive, even after deputies begin chest compressions. The 22-year-old doesn’t speak but can be heard moaning.
“Anybody know his name?” an agent asks, to which someone responds “no” and asks Melvin his name but he is unconscious.
It’s more than eight minutes before paramedics arrive and deputies tell paramedics he has no pulse.
The shooting remains under FDLE investigation.
On the night the videos were released, Sheriff John Mina won his re-election bid in the Florida primary for Orange County Sheriff. During a news conference he was asked about the video.
Mina said FDLE is reviewing the incident and the investigation is still ongoing.
“This agency and other Central Florida agencies made this decision a long time ago to have an independent unit investigate our police shootings and that’s what we have done, so it is their investigation,” Mina said. “We want to let them handle their investigation but because of the public interest in this case, we made a decision in this agency that we would release body cam video.”
Bradley Laurent, the attorney for Melvin’s parents, said the Sheriff’s Office told them around 3 p.m. Tuesday they were releasing the video, however, they did not receive the video until about 6 p.m., about an hour before polls closed on Florida’s primary election night, two weeks after the shooting.
“To release it at that time it seems pretty obvious it was a strategic decision,” Laurent said on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said the video was released after the state agency finished initial interviews Tuesday around noon.
“We completed the initial interviews (Tuesday). While our investigation is active, we are unable to provide additional information. Our role is to conduct a complete and thorough investigation as it relates to the law enforcement officer’s use of force,” FDLE said in an email. “Once our investigation is complete, we provide that information to the state attorney who makes the charging decisions. Our investigation is considered ‘active’ until the State Attorney’s Office renders their findings.”