‘Make them think twice:’ Family of man killed by Orange County deputy demands policy changes

Salaythis Melvin's family attorneys moving forward with civil suit against Orange County Sheriff's Office

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Attorneys representing the parents of Salaythis Melvin, a 22-year-old man fatally shot in the back by an Orange County deputy in plain clothes, are demanding Sheriff John Mina make immediate policy changes to the department’s use of force policy.

Lawyers Bradley Laurent and Carlus Haynes spoke to reporters Wednesday the morning after Mina won the primary election for a chance to serve a second term as sheriff and the body camera video of Melvin’s shooting was released.

The attorneys said they plan to file a civil lawsuit against the sheriff and the department for wrongful death.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office Agent James Montiel opened fire on Salaythis Melvin on Aug. 7 outside the Florida Mall as the 22-year-old was running away, video shows.

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. That warrant was not for Melvin and deputies did not know who he was, even asking his name in the body camera video.

When deputies approached, the 22-year-old ran away and toward Montiel, according to the deputy’s account, who got out of his unmarked vehicle and saw Melvin holding a stolen Glock handgun. Deputies did not know the weapon was stolen until after the shooting, according to the attorneys for Melvin’s family.

Melvin died of a single gunshot wound to the back, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He was running away from the deputy when he was shot, the video shows.

The attorneys are demanding Mina make a policy change that bans shooting a fleeing suspect and makes officers “think twice” before pulling the trigger.

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