ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – News 6 sat down with Orange County Sheriff John Mina Wednesday, four weeks after one of his deputies shot and killed a man at the Florida Mall.
Since then, hours of body camera video from the shooting has been released as protesters have called for the sheriff to fire the deputy who opened fire.
Mina said he’s all about transparency.
“We want to keep this community safe, but we also want this community to trust us,” Mina said. “I think just continuing to talk to the community as much as we can to continue to put as much information as we can.”
Over the past few days, protests have been led outside the Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Mall demanding justice.
According to official reports from the Sheriff’s Office, the deputy who opened fire Aug. 7 said he feared that Melvin was reaching for a gun in his waistband. Melvin was shot in the back as he ran away, video shows.
Body camera video from other responding deputies was released more than a week later on Aug. 18, but not from the deputy who opened fire. His camera was not turned on, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
When asked about the release of the video compared to other Central Florida agencies who release video sooner, the sheriff said he was following protocol. Daytona Beach police officers shot and killed an attempted murder suspect on Saturday morning, the department released the body camera video that night.
“The difference here is FDLE actually prefers that we wait until all of the witnesses are interviewed,” Mina said, referring to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the independent agency that reviews officer-involved shootings.
The sheriff said he can’t discuss the facts in the case because it remains under investigation, but we asked him whether deadly force is necessary even if someone is running away.
“Our deputies are trained that anytime they’re in fear for their life or the lives of others they are authorized to use deadly force,” Mina said. “It all depends on the totality of the circumstances.”
Mina said what happened to George Floyd was wrong, referencing the Black man killed by Minneapolis police earlier this summer. Floyd’s death spurred calls for change in use of force policy around the country. During protests in Orlando, Mina and Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón prayed alongside protesters.
Working to be more transparent, Mina said he met with a community activist Tuesday evening and he’s also considering a new policy regarding the release of video in deputy shootings.
The first body camera video from the shooting at the Florida Mall was released on the evening of Aug. 18, Florida’s primary election day.
Mina won the primary and will be on the November ballot, but said that any speculation of the timing of the video’s release to his election is completely inaccurate.
He said his deputies go through regular use of force and deescalation training.