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Protesters march near Florida Mall where 22-year-old was fatally shot by deputy

Florida Mall closed ahead of planned protest over death of Salaythis Melvin

ORLANDO, Fla. – About 100 protesters took to the streets around Florida Mall on Friday, demanding answers in the deputy-involved shooting death of Salaythis Melvin.

Melvin was killed on Aug. 7 after an Orange County sheriff’s deputy said he feared Melvin was reaching for his gun in his waistband as he ran from law enforcement across the mall parking lot.

The deputy fired his weapon, hitting Melvin in the back.

The Florida Mall shut down early Friday ahead of a planned protest.

The mall closed at 1 p.m., and News 6 confirmed barricades were placed in front of the mall entrances. A group of demonstrators began marching along Sand Lake Road and Orange Blossom Trail about three hours later.

[ORIGINAL STORY: Orange County deputy shoots armed man at Florida Mall, sheriff says]

Groups of people carrying signs, including messages painted on a car, began showing up around 3 p.m.

“What do we want?” a man on a megaphone asked the crowd. “Justice,” the group replied.

Organizers said they planned a peaceful demonstration on Friday and said they would respect the barricades.

“We are always aiming for a peaceful protest,” said organizer Miles Mulrain. “We’re never going to condone or promote any looting or any violence. We only stand for non-violence peaceful, but we’re speaking up.”

Mulrain said the body camera video released on Tuesday showing the moments immediately before and after Melvin’s shooting raised more questions for him.

He and the other protesters who gathered called on the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to criminally charge the deputy who fired his weapon.

“We need the sheriff, we need the Orange County mayor, we need all of them to take direct action,” he said. “It’s not going to calm down if it only gets more time to build up, and there’s no one taking real action.”

Additional protests are planned at the Florida Mall Saturday morning as well in the afternoon at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office headquarters, according to organizers.

Erik Sandoval provided live updates from Friday’s protests at Florida Mall:

5:35 p.m.

Both side of Orange Blossom Trail and Sand Lake Road are shut down due to the protest. Deputies are attempting to get the demonstrators to clear the roads.

At least two people have been arrested.

4:50 p.m.

Bike patrol officers have arrived.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies are ordering the protesters to leave the roadway and disperse immediately.

4:30 p.m.

Dozens of demonstrators have left the parking lot off and began marching down Sand Lake Road Traffic was halted near Orange Blossom Trail and storm clouds were moving in.

EARLIER UPDATES:

According to an arrest affidavit, Orange County Sheriff’s Office Agent James Montiel opened fire on Melvin on Aug. 7 outside the Florida Mall.

Body camera video was released earlier this week showing the moments before and after Melvin was shot. Since the footage was released, there have been questions surrounding what led up to the fatal shooting.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina said Melvin had a stolen Glock handgun. When deputies approached, Melvin 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.

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

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.

Following the release of the video, attorneys representing Melvin’s family said they plan to file a civil lawsuit against the sheriff and the department for wrongful death.

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

When asked about the video, Mina said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement 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.”

Melvin’s parents, Michelin McKee and Ryan Findley, released a statement the day after the video was released. While their attorneys have described what they saw, the parents said they have not been able to bring themselves to watch the video of their son’s last moments.

They thanked the sheriff for releasing the video but asked that Melvin’s death not be in vain.

“Promise us, and the citizens of Orange County that no one -- be they black or white, young or old, Baptist or Catholic -- be gunned down in the manner our son was,” McKee and Findley said in a statement.

Melvin’s death comes on the heels of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis after video showed an officer kneeling on his neck for several minutes as Floyd drew his last breaths.

Since the May 25 incident, demonstrations protesting the death of Black civilians at the hands of law enforcement officers have taken place nationwide.

Details about Friday’s protest were not immediately known.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. Stay with News 6 and continue checking ClickOrlando.com for updates.


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