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Deputy didn’t use racial slur after man was shot at Florida Mall, sheriff’s office says

Audio was enhanced to prove what was said, according to authorities

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – After body camera video was released showing an Orange County deputy shooting a man in the back outside the Florida Mall, attorneys representing the family of the man who was killed said it was possible that one of the deputies may have used a racial slur.

On Thursday, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office addressed the allegation in a statement posted on social media.

[RELATED: ‘Make them think twice:’ Family of man killed by Orange County deputy demands policy changes | Body camera video shows deputy shooting man in back at Florida Mall]

“After a thorough review, including enhancement of the audio using professional software, it has been determined that the statements at issue related to a request for a medical device to aid in the lifesaving measures that were taking place,” the statement read.

The footage in question shows the moments after 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.

[Editor’s note: The video below is extremely graphic and shows the moments right before and after Melvin was shot.]

While Montiel did not have his body camera activated, he claimed that Melvin turned toward him while he had a gun in his hand.

The video provided by the Sheriff’s Office, embedded above, shows several deputies approaching Melvin as he was lying on the pavement.

Initially, deputies gave commands before realizing that he wasn’t responsive.

“Get your hands out, you’re gonna get (expletive) shot,” a deputy said.

Lifesaving measures, including CPR, began shortly thereafter.

Ultimately, Melvin died as a result of the gunshot wound to his back.

Attorney Carlus Haynes, who is representing Melvin’s family, said Wednesday that he watched the footage repeatedly and it was possible that Melvin might have been called a racial slur at the 5:04 mark in the video above, although he hoped to have an expert listen to the audio to determine definitively what was said.

[READ MORE: Demonstrators call for Orange County deputy’s body camera video to be released | ‘We want justice:’ Family demands answers in fatal deputy-involved shooting outside Florida Mall]

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said it launched an inquiry.

“The deputy asked: ‘Is there a blow thing, or no?’ referring to a face shield. Specifically, a CPR face shield which enables safe mouth-to-mouth resuscitation,” the statement read. “After examining the audio and context in which the comment was made, we can say -- unequivocally -- that all deputies on scene were singularly focused on rendering lifesaving aid.”

Controversy has surrounded the shooting that took place nearly two weeks ago, with demonstrators at first pushing for the release of the body camera video and now, pushing for more transparency and reform within the sheriff’s office.

Records show Melvin was with a group a people outside the mall when deputies approached 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 in July.

Deputies said Melvin was running away when he was shot.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting, which is standard procedure.


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